Massive Attack

Virgin Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


"You are my angel. Come from way above. To bring me love...." This is how it all begins. The horror-show starts with "Angel," with Horace Andy doing the honors beginning with inviting words against a very somber and eerie backdrop. This 6 min. 18 sec. long forerunner leads the way for the equally dark remaining ten songs, the conglomeration of which make up the beautifully horrific Mezzanine. After the very positive and spirited Blue Lines, Massive Attack took a shift and came up with the less exuberant but equally mind-blowing my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Protection. This gradual move towards the less brighter side of affairs could only result in something as bleak as Mezzanine -- sensuous, enjoyably distressing and stoic.

The female collaboration these fellas have been working with is worth a look. Firstly, it was Shara Nelson on Blue Lines. Then it was Tracey Horn on Protection. With Mezzanine, their darkest and boldest effort to date, their female accompaniment comes from an equally strange and mysterious band, The Cocteau Twins. Elizabeth Fraser sings for The Cocteau Twins and has sung / co-written three songs in Mezzanine. With her mellow vocals and ambiguous style of singing (which befits The Cocteau Twins' style of music), Liz's vocals agree perfectly with the ambience of this L.P. Of "Teardrop", "Black Milk" and "Group Four," Fraser's vocals sound best on the first single of the album. With just the right amount of elusiveness she entices with her soothing tone, which makes "Teardrop" such a difficult song not to be haunted by.

The other female support to Elizabeth is Sara Jay. Sara sings the most frightening number of this collection of spooky tunes. "Dissolved Girl" is the name of the song, which starts off in the most pensive and unassuming manner. The excitement starts somewhere in the middle of its six-minute timespan, when a bizarre crescendo explodes, showing off a grand display of drums, bass and guitars on the ranks of a grunge band. This affirms that Massive Attack's realm of genius extends well beyond disco.

This collection of trip-hop gems also includes some very interesting samples from The Cure and the Velvet Underground, to name a few. "Man Next Door," which contains samples form "10:15 Saturday Night" by The Cure, eases on the eeriness a bit and is the most accessible song on the album. If you dare to enter this haunted house, you are guaranteed of a hair-raising experience, which will make you enter it again once you've come out of it.

Rating: A-

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