Massive Attack,Heligoland,Deluxe Edition,2010



Massive Attack website

Massive Attack are a collaborative British music production duo from Bristol. Working alongside co-producers, various favoured session musicians and guest vocalists, they make records and tour live. The duo are considered to be progenitors of the trip hop genre.

Originally three in number, DJs Grantley „Grant” Marshall (a.k.a. Daddy G or „G”), Andrew „Andy” Vowles (a.k.a. Mushroom or „Mush”) and graffiti artist-turned-MC Robert Del Naja (a.k.a. 3D or „D”) met as members of DJ/MC collective, The Wild Bunch. One of the first homegrown soundsystems in the UK, The Wild Bunch became dominant on the Bristolian club scene in the mid-1980s.

Massive Attack itself started as a spin-off production trio in 1988, with the independently-released song, „Any Love”, sung by falsetto-voiced singer-songwriter Carlton McCarthy,and then, with considerable backing from Neneh Cherry, they signed to Circa Records in 1990 – committing to deliver six studio albums and a „best of” compilation.Circa became a subsidiary of, and was later subsumed into,Virgin Records, which in turn was acquired by the now Terra Firma-owned major, EMI

Cd rewiev from The Guardian:

And so Massive Attack’s fifth studio album arrives, a full seven years after its predecessor. The wait automatically confers a sense of event on Heligoland, as evidenced by the fact that one Sunday paper dispatched not a music journalist but Will Self to interview the people responsible. After spending 1,000 words establishing that he’s the only person in Britain who refers to Massive Attack as „the Massives”, he finally let fly with the what-did-you-have-for-lunch-mate-dictionary- pudding? stuff he had presumably been employed for: „The Massives have always had a certain fissiparous approach to their work as an ensemble” and so on.

The surprise isn’t really that it took so long. One fact everyone knows about Massive Attack – second only to their fissiparous approach to ensemble work – is that its members are never likely to end up attached to a cardiograph, ­being lectured by a doctor on the dangers of overwork. The surprise is more that Heligoland has arrived at all. The last time they released an album, Massive Attack seemed to be in the process of vanishing, both in the physical sense – the sprawling collective that made their 1991 debut album Blue Lines had been reduced to one member, Robert „3D” del Naja – and musically. A wash of softly flickering electronics and spectral guitar figures, 2003’s 100th Window sounded barely there, withdrawn and drained. It didn’t so much play as hang listlessly about, like the bloke inexplicably still on your sofa three days after the party: it was an album that, metaphorically speaking, just lay there, occasionally weakly suggesting you to go up the 24-hour garage and get it some Rizlas and a raspberry Yop.

When another founder member, Grant „Daddy G” Marshall, returned, he told a journalist that he would „bring the black back to Massive Attack”. He was joking, but he had a point. The problem with 100th Window was that it had cut itself off completely from the band’s reggae, hip-hop and soul roots. You could argue that Del Naja’s bloody-mindedness in doing this was the solitary link to the Blue Lines era – after all, it takes a certain bloody-mindedness to make a debut album that drips with swaggering, insouciant cool, when everyone rapping on it does so in a West Country burr seldom heard in popular music outside the oeuvre of the Wurzels – but it was hard not to feel that a bit more bass, a little more funk might have made have made it easier to love.

If the clusters of gloomy chords and ominous breakbeat that opens Pray for Rain suggests that Marshall’s return hasn’t lifted Massive Attack’s musical mood, it’s certainly done something to their sound, as evidenced by the juddering, dubby bassline of Paradise Circus, which is more beautiful than any song apparently named after a roundabout in central Birmingham has a right to be. The most obvious example of Marshall’s input to Heligoland is Splitting the Atom, on which he booms about bank bail-outs over an off-kilter skanking beat, but the best point of comparison with its predecessor might be Rush Minute. It deals with the same topic as much of 100th Window – the incongruous allure of hedonism in middle age (Del Naja is 45) – but the music seems more organic, warmer, more grounded: it’s devoid of the remote, mechanistic sheen of 100th Window, which makes it substantially easier to empathise with the song’s protagonist, rather than wishing he’d just give it a rest.

These are tracks invariably destined to be overlooked in favour of the duo’s collaborations: almost uniquely in the dance world, where guest vocalists usually feel like an afterthought, bolted in a bid to broaden an album’s potential market, they are capable of teasing something different from their collaborators. If Martina Topley-Bird’s contributions Babel and Psyche don’t scale the heights of astonishment Massive Attack achieved with previous female collaborators Tracey Thorn and Liz Fraser, then ­Damon Albarn’s Saturday Come Slow finds a singer frequently accused of artifice locating a genuine soulfulness. Better still is Flat of the Blade. Elbow’s Guy Garvey is famed for his exquisitely careworn voice, but here, set against a panoply of disjointed acidic bleeps and a slippery electronic beat, it’s taken into an entirely new emotional realm: he sounds haunted to the point of terror. „Things I have seen will chase me to the grave,” he sings, and you genuinely believe him.

You could argue that Massive Attack haven’t done anything new here: its highlights could have fitted perfectly on Mezzanine. That said, even the most cursory listen to Flat of the Blade informs you that they’re still doing things that no one else does. Given the sheer number of people who have tried to make music like theirs in the last 20 years, that’s some achievement. Their fissiparous approach to their work as an ensemble appears to be paying dividends once more.

  1. „Pray for Rain” (vocals by Tunde Adebimpe) – 6:44
  2. „Babel” (vocals by Martina Topley-Bird) – 5:19
  3. „Splitting the Atom” (vocals by Grant Marshall, Horace Andy and Robert Del Naja) – 5:16
  4. „Girl I Love You” (vocals by Horace Andy) – 5:26
  5. „Psyche” (vocals by Martina Topley-Bird) – 3:24
  6. „Flat of the Blade” (vocals by Guy Garvey) – 5:30
  7. „Paradise Circus” (vocals by Hope Sandoval) – 4:57
  8. „Rush Minute” (vocals by Robert Del Naja) – 4:51
  9. „Saturday Come Slow” (vocals by Damon Albarn) – 3:43
  10. „Atlas Air” (vocals by Robert Del Naja) – 7:48




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