Thursday, 18 February 2010

Massive Attack
Rating: 4/5

Mezzanine, Massive Attack's 1998 masterpiece is like Ok Computer- it's a jumping off point to many different eclectic genres and sub-genres, wrapped up in one accessible pill. Obviously everybody's aware of the massive singles 'Angel' and 'Teardrop'; I'm not for one second going to try and argue that these aren't the album highlights, but casual listeners might miss the true brilliance of this record if they only get as far as the first few tracks.

After 'Dissolved Girl', the album begins to space out, 'progging out' as my housemates and I say. Gone is the immediacy of tracks like 'Inertia Creeps', and in are the beat heavy, sparse songs like 'Man Next Door', 'Black Milk' and 'Group Four'. Best listened to late at night before crashing, it's still (strangely enough) an album I can listen to at midday in the height of summer without it feeling out of place.

The dark electronic sounds were a big departure from their more dub trip-hop Blue Lines and Protection, and they lost a member (Andrew Vowles, a.k.a. Mushroom) as a result. Nevertheless, the layered loops and distorted guitars that drift through these tracks represent a startling shot of orginality, and constant attention to melody puts this album on a plane of its own. In particular, it is a striking 'fuck you' to fellow Bristoleans Portishead, whose dark, atmospheric electronica presaged the mood of this album but failed to match its quality. In short, the defining dark ambient/trip hop record, and an essential for any serious music lover.

Additional listening: 100th Window (Massive Attack), Team Sleep (Team Sleep), Dummy (Portishead)

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