From Bristol, England, the birthplace of trip-hop, the band Massive Attack grew up among other electronic greats from the same town like Portishead and Tricky. Tricky was part of the band at the beginning, when they were called “The Wild Bunch”, and he was an instrumental part of the record Blue Lines but branched out on his own right after that with his landmark record Maxinquaye.
Favorite records from Massive Attack are Blue Lines, which is moody and soulful.
And Mezzanine, which combines psychedelic rock and electronica so effectively that it could be seen as the “missing link” between the styles.
Almost two decades after their start, this year the current group, producers Grant Marshall (who goes by “G”) and Robert Del Naja (who goes by “D”) released the band’s 5th full length Heligoland.
Heligoland has many guests on it, including Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Damon Albarn from Blur and Gorillaz, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Guy Garvey from Elbow. Reggae great Horace Andy also makes an appearance, as well as the singer best known for her work on Tricky’s Maxinquaye album: Martina Topley-Bird.
Like many of their records, Heligoland takes a few listens to get. And it’s slower, sleepier maybe, than their earlier records. With lots of space in the songs, which D and G say is the influence of dub.
The other change in Massive Attack’s style is mainly due to the fact that they are now making their own samples, rather than morphing the work of others.
“We were the kings of thieves in our neighborhood,” Del Naja says. “We took some of the best bits of other people’s music and built them and rebuilt them into new songs. That was the fun part of it — the anarchy of taking and remodeling, remaking, dismantling and rebuilding. We work in a very different way now.” – From a 2010 NPR Interview
Massive Attack play the Sasquatch Music Festival at The Gorge on Sunday, May 30! And you can hear some songs from Heligoland, along with a few classics from “Blue Lines” and “Mezzanine” this week on Michele Myers show on KEXP. Saturday from 3-6pm.