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CD REVIEW: Massive Attack - Heligoland

Thursday, February 18 2010 10:01AM
Almost two years after the release of the album Third from Portisheads, it’s now Massive Attacks turn to bring back to relevancy the Trip-Hop movement and at the same time brining the musical genre to a new level.

On the fifth official studio album (excluding here a soundtrack production) from the group/project/collective, Robert del Naja (3D) and Neil Davidge revive some of the old spiritual elements from previous albums while addressing proudly a more down-tempo and by eliciting new artists to collaborate for the vocal part to alternately color the songs with their own personalities.


Damon Albarn (notably from Blur and Gorillaz fame) lends his voice to an almost pop sounding melodramatic song, well-executed with a good feel to it titled “Saturday Come Slow”, feeling like a song remix Blur would be proud of.

For her part, Hope Sandoval sensually whispers the delicate melody of "Paradise Circus" (see video below), while the sublime voice of Guy Garvey (Elbow) blends perfectly with the disturbing "Flat of the Blade" and that of Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio) sets the tone of the album on the opening piece "Pray for Rain".

Back to the fold, Horace Andy also lends his characteristic tone of voice and his singular vibrato to a few pieces including "Girl I Love You," one of the best tracks on the album mostly due to the cyclical rise in crescendo.

Something old, something new

Less gloomy and claustrophobic than the excellent "Mezzanine" (1998), "Heligoland" is however just as sulphurous as the latter, without falling into the dull replay that inspired "100th Window" (2003).

The use of low frequencies is still very present, hypnotic rhythms too, but after listening to the album in its whole; it seems much less heavy and alienating than the previous ones from the group.

It is also impossible to deny the influence of soundtrack music - main occupation of 3D and Davidge during their seven-year recording hiatus - in the conception of this album. Atmospheres are polished as ever, bearing proof of the group’s great attention to details.

This marks a very successful return on the frontline of the musical scene for a group we had thought could be classified as has-beens.


Hits :
Girl I Love You, Flat of the Blade, Paradise Circus, Saturday Come Slow

Misses :
Babel, Psyche