Tricky Exchanges Sweets For Ear Candy On Blowback

Dark electronic-music artist's relaxed album includes guests Alanis Morissette, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Like Jenny Craig or Subway-commercial guy Jared Fogle, Tricky's life changed when his diet did.

The peculiar electronic-music producer saved himself from insanity by dropping dairy, sugar, yeast and canned foods under doctor's orders, and by switching to macrobiotic products.

Tricky recovered from a severe depression to create a stellar advertisement for his life-changing diet in Blowback, arguably the best album of his decade-long career.

"I went through a lot of mad stuff," Tricky said from his New York studio in May. "This is the first time I've relaxed in three years and you kind of hear that on the record."

Unlike the collections of broken beats and twisted words that comprised Tricky's earlier albums, Blowback is total ear candy. On it he works with a slew of hit makers including Alanis Morissette, Live's Ed Kowalczyk, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Cyndi Lauper. He even remade "Wonder Woman."

It's a far cry from 1999's Juxtapose, the nadir of Tricky's dark and dreary phase.

"I was in a state of insanity," Tricky said of his life following that album's release. "I was seeing a psychiatrist and that didn't work. It was all about my diet. It's hard to stay on it. I broke it last night and feel sick as f---."

Tricky also credits his recovery to his desire to bring new sounds to the world.

"I've got nothing against things like Britney Spears," he explained. "My daughter loves her. She is a totally positive artist. Things like Eminem aren't the opposite. He does songs about 'NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys and stuff, but, with no disrespect to him at all, he's exactly like the Backstreet Boys except there's only one of him. It's pop music. It's pop art. There needs to be more art on the radio and MTV."

Blowback, released Tuesday, is not a collaborative showcase (see "Tricky Works With Chili Peppers, Morissette, Kowalczyk on Blowback"). Tricky tries to combine different worlds on the album, as when Jamaican prodigy Hawkman and soul singer Ambersunshower tag team on "Over Me" or England-bred Tricky's own distinguished voice tears into Nirvana's "Something in the Way."

It may be arty, but it's also the most commercial music Tricky has released. "Evolution Revolution Love," with Kowalczyk and Hawkman, is climbing rock-radio charts, and the producer hopes to expose his new sounds to a wider audience by touring in the fall as an opener for a bigger act (he's hoping for Tool).

"I'm the luckiest man alive, because I can do anything I want," Tricky said. "Some people in England won't like this album because they prefer the darker, stranger stuff. If my name is associated with pop, they're going to not listen to it. I might be called a sellout if I get radio play. All I know is, my music is more honest than most."