ONE WAY Recommends [Issue
Massive Attack By
There was something
strangely appropriate about listening to the latest Massive Attack album for the
first time in the silent movie theater in L.A. As I sat in my seat and contemplated
the irony of the context for this event, it became clear to me: with this group
from Bristol, England, nothing is as you might expect. 100th Window is no different.
Each release from the architects of trip-hop pushes the envelope of languid electronica
in some way, sometimes subtle, always noticeable. But in the end, the mesmerizing
result remains easily identifiable as Massive Attack. Members of the group come
and go from album to album, as do the female singers whose guest vocals provide
a touch of femininity to the often hardened undercurrent of their aural landscapes.
Here the meticulously constructed music is almost entirely the work of Robert
3D Del Naja (one of Massive Attacks three founding members
Mushroom has permanently left the band and Daddy G has taken a sabbatical to raise
a family), who employs the unequivocal Sinèad OConnor for three songs.
Her beaten yet unrelenting voice empowers his haunting productions with a sense
of melancholic urgency.
Unlike the groups
last album, Mezzanine, whose sublime existence is easily digested upon first
listen, 100th Window may take a few sittings before you can grasp its complex
art. And even then, you still might not fully appreciate the technical effort
involved. What you assumed to simply be the working of a synthesizer is actually
a live instrument, yet one whose sounds have been squeezed through the circuitry
of a computer program and edited to meet the demands of Del Naja.
Some have described
their music as being cinematic, perfectly suited for the subtle intensity of
a brooding, indie thriller. I tend to agree, but go one step further. For those
of you who always wanted a soundtrack to accompany you in your nightlife, 100th
Window is a brilliant choice for those darker, more silent moments.