No one would call the trip-hop architects of Massive Attack hopeless romantics, but I suspect that their music has been enjoyed in just as many bedrooms as clubs. Their collages of seductive vocals and slow, fleshy beats appears to activate all the appropriate hormones and makes that itch — to dance or something more intimate — all the more crucial to scratch.
Aural stimulation has been Massive Attack forte since the ’80s. It was then that two of the original three (Grant “Daddy G” Marshall and Adrian “Mushroom” Vowles) rolled with the Wild Bunch, a scenester/collective of dance-related artists who routed delicate soul and hip-hop thump through the dub-echo chambers of their roving DJ parties. With local graffiti artist/producer Robert “3-D” Del Naja, completing the trinity, a fully operational Massive Attack released 1991’s “Blue Lines,” which became the blueprint for those wanting to explore the darker side of dance music. Eschewing the regimented tempos and flashy fashions of early rap and dance hall, they delved into the dreamy, seamy drama that seemed to linger just below the surface of waking life. Guest vocalists Tracey Thorn and Elizabeth Fraser added fragile filigree to ’94’s “Protection” and ’98’s masterwork, “Mezzanine,” but it was the androgynous falsetto of reggae legend Horace Andy that gave the sound such a shadowy cinematic quality.
Read the full review at The Japan Times Online.