The arrival last year of bands like Morcheeba, Moloko, and Baby Fox suggests the profound influence of the Bristol explosion. While the diverse output of Massive Attack, Portishead, and Tricky is often lumped lazily together as trip-hop, the music that's developed in its wake continues to combine the common elements in numerous ways. Of the second-generation bands, London's Baby Fox is arguably the most interesting. The band's debut album, A Normal Family (Roadrunner), borrows Bristol's thick, rough-cut grooves, but takes the spliffed-out reggae vibe much further. From sampling Prince Far I's guttural shouts on "Johnny Lipshake" to covering Lee "Scratch" Perry's classic "Curlylocks," the trio manages to convey the mercurial looseness that distinguished the best 70s reggae, and for the most part Baby Fox's dub technique serves to skirt the issue of just how much more the band might rely on those old records. Baby Fox seems most concerned with crafting a world of sensual sound; sweet-voiced singer Christine Ann Leach works harder to create shadowy atmosphere than to offer soulful expression. On the down side: the band's current single, "Ladybird," leans a bit too heavily on smoky poses, a la Portishead; and the current tour is sponsored by Camel. Wednesday, 11 PM, Dome Room, 632 1/2 N. Dearborn; 312-266-2114. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Steve Gullick.