Released this coming week is “Heligoland” the new, long awaited album from Massive Attack.
Emerging in the early 90s alongside the dire, media invented “trip-hop” scene, their first release “Blue Lines” defined an era and is now regarded as one of the greatest debut albums of all time. The sunny good time vibes of their first album didn’t last long though with subsequent releases became increasingly darker, dubbier and infused with a digital rock sound that has refused to stand still. “Heligoland” sees them adopt a new approach once again, looking back to their soundsystem roots as part of the Wild Bunch this new album sees them working with a multitude of singers and musicians , including Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz), Tunde Adebimpe (from TV On The Radio), Hope Sandavol (Mazzy Star), Guy Garvey (Elbow) and Martina Topley-Bird, as well as regular collaborator and reggae legend, Horace Andy. Musically the album is all over the place, taking elements from throughout their career and adding even more on top (glitchtronica, folk, etc..), yet despite the diverse influences and multitude of talent involved the band still manage to create a coherent and focused album that produces a fragile, dark and beautiful sense of atmosphere. Its a definite return to form after their last, disappointing, release “100th Window”.
However despite creating some of the most striking and memorable dance music ever, one of things I have always admired about Massive Attack is their commitment to the visual element of everything they do. Perhaps its down to band member 3D’s success as an artist in his own right ( he was already an acclaimed graffiti artist before the band released their first single) or the sheer quality of the talent they work with (Tom Hingston, Nick Knight, Jonathan Glazer, UnitedVisualArtists, Michael Gondry, Steve Bliss…) but ever aspect of how the group is presented, from artwork, to stage show and even the packaging concepts themselves, seems to crackle with an inventive energy and artistic integrity that enhances the music and adds to the band members mystique.
“Heligoland” is no different. 3D has created the cover artwork himself, as well as a series of works to compliment the tracks on the album which will be available in a special book which comes exclusively as part of the triple heavyweight vinyl version of the album. Check out the images below for pics of 3D’s studio.
In addition, they have commissioned a series of short films from directors including Bailie Walsh and Ewan Spencer to accompany each of the album tracks, one of which is rapidly gaining notoriety for featuring Georgina Spelvin, star of infamous porn film “The Devil and Miss Jones” discussing her career. They are also embracing technology too as all these films are being gradually loaded onto the band’s “Tweatre” where fans can not only watch them, but share and discuss them on Twitter too.
“Heligoland” by Massive Attack is available from Monday 8th Feb