LIKE MANY AUTODIDACTS, HE IS PRONE TO MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HIS SUBJECTS, BUT AS THERE IS NO-ONE TO OVERSEE HIM HIS POSITION IS RELATIVELY SECURE
September 26, 2013 § 5 Comments
Think this one’s underrated? Having grown up with Blue Lines, Protection and Mezzanine I was really looking to the lp’s release, but after a couple of disappointed listens it got shelved. Not aged as badly as I would’ve thought, but still sounds a bit slight and sullen to me now…
Wasn’t that taken w/ it at first, but it’s definitely grown on me. I had a weirdly inverted relationship w/ it – ‘Special Cases’ was the first Massive Attack song I ever heard, back in 03, but then forgot about it until hearing the first two albums over the last year. Then I came upon this in a charity shop in Woolwich. The harshness of it is really intriguing, particularly the quality of the bass, & the weirdly neurasthenic quality of 3D’s vocals. (Though he’s still not even close in interest to early Tricky – the other thing I’ve been listening to recently.) Don’t think all of it’s good – ‘Prayer For England’ I can do without, & you do kind of want some levity occasionally. But I think it stands up pretty well on its own.
Special Cases was the first you heard? Interesting! Teardrop was quite ubiquitous when Mezzanine came out, and Unfinished Sympathy used to be on music TV all the time. That’s how I was introduced to them I think (altho I always felt Unfinished Sympathy was kinda overrated). I think 100th Window is prob closest to Protection, which’s actually my favourite MA lp (not listened to it in yrs, mind). Always thought of it as a much softer version of Tricky’s (pretty forbidding) PMT.
Strangely I don’t remember ever knowingly hearing ‘Teardrop’ until we got cable & hence MTV years later (2003 maybe?). It wasn’t the kind of thing played on the stations my parents listened to – Bournemouth’s not that sophisticated – & I wasn’t really interested in music when ‘Mezzanine’ came out.
I’m still not really sure about ‘Protection’ – it feels kind of uneven (like ‘100th Window’ in that respect). Although I love its languidity & heat-haze atmosphere – the bass is so soft & lovingly integrated. Whereas ‘Blue Lines’ just seems so perfectly formed & coherent to me, more than the sum of its parts.
Protection is def. uneven (listened to it again last night); tracks like Three and Eurochild are quite alien-sounding, and I guess Better Things is prob about as good as the ‘trip hop’ archetype gets. Mezzanine’s more consistent but I always felt it’s just a bit too consciously brooding. Angel and Group Four still sound pretty great tho.
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