Proves that conflict produces great music
Leftfield, Trip Hop and Downtempo
Expertly engineered and produced it’s no wonder that this is Massive Attack’s best sounding album to date.
Proceedings open with the ominous Angel that amalgamates Horace Andy’s song into a droning groove, confirming your worst fears that the boys are in a stroppy mood. Risingson is a radically reworked cover of The Velvet Underground’s I Found A Reason – a cluttered world of voices and distorted guitars - while Teardrop features Elizabeth Fraser vocal magic to extraordinary effect.
Inertia Creeps is a dark and powerful with bone crunching bass, but the sparkly Exchange trumps that by sampling the fuzzy melody of Isaac Hayes’ Our Day Will Come. Sara Jay needs a little love to ease the pain in Dissolved Girl – with its thick, juicy bass line.
Led Zep fans will spot the When The Levee Breaks drum sample in the background as John Holt sings about the Man Next Door, and Fraser returns for another sexy moment in Black Milk – surely one of the album’s best grooves. Voices talk of growing traffic and spending the weekend with friends in the menacing Mezzanine - while Group Four continues the bleak but strangely comforting British soundscape. Then, when you least expect it, (Exchange) offers a melodic happy ending (of sorts).
Some say that trip hop is played out. But re-visiting Mezzanine today produces a renewed sense of awe. Sure it’s dystopian in its gorgeously recorded moody glumness – but it is also electrifying, collaboratively inspired and it still sounds fresh after nearly 20 years.