By the time you read this, tickets will probably
be sold out for one of the years most anticipated concerts,
but despite the media frenzy surrounding UK electronica stars
Massive Attacks first release in four years, the word
on the new album is decidedly mixed.
100th Window, released in January on Virgin, marked the debut
of the new, stripped-down version of the band. Of the original
trio of Andrew Mushroom Vowles, Daddy G
Marshall, and Robert 3D Del Naja, Mushroom left
the band in 2000, while Daddy G was reportedly away on parenting
sabbatical duty, leaving 3D and producer Neil Davidge in charge
(Daddy G is reportedly on the bill for Tokyo).
Following in the footsteps of 1998s Number One album,
Mezzanine, not to mention 1991s superb Blue Lines and
1994s worthy Protection, the album faced the monumental
challenge of outdoing those defining landmarks in 90s
electronica. And, while the languorous, sinister grooves of
100th Window are quintessential Massive Attack trip-hop, some
are saying the album follows the groups well-worn formulas
perhaps a bit too slavishly.
Jamaican reggae great Horace Andy is back again, and for the
female vocalist slot, Irish sylph Sinead OConnor was
tappedhardly a stroke of genius considering the similarity
of her ethereal voice with previous contributors like Elizabeth
Frazer of the Cocteau Twins. Nonetheless, some see the album
as not a rehashing, but a refining of Massive Attacks
brooding psychedelia, and OConnors contributions
on What Your Soul Sings are undeniably mesmerizing.
Definitely sublime, sung one online reviewer.
It is certainly Massive Attacks most cohesive,
precise, coherent and mature album to date ... Del Najas
work is awesome, and I revel in the several layers of sound
and beauty in each of the gorgeous tracks.
Almost as highly looked-forward-to will be the set by special
guest, sampling wunderkind Josh Davis, a.k.a. DJ Shadow. Shadow
was last here in the summer for an appearance at Fuji Rock
02, where he presented his latest album, The Private
Press (MCA). Like Massive Attack, Shadow with his new album
faced the problem of living up to his reputation as one of
electronicas leading innovators.
The cut n paste specialist had shook up the worlds
of both hip-hop and techno with his masterfully abstract Endtroducing,
an amazing collage of samples carefully arranged to create
entirely new songs. Perhaps wisely, Shadow didnt attempt
to duplicate Endtroducing, but with The Private Press took
off in a less sample-centric direction.
With electronica in the throws of something of a mid-life
crisis, it will be intriguing to see what these two innovators
have to offer at this delicate moment in its history.
For those of you looking for an extra date to be added, dont
get your hopes up. Were not going to do the same
volume of gigs we did in 1998 and 1999, Del Naja told
NME. The band also have to be back in the UK for a European
tour that starts from April.
Meanwhile, Del Naja has been working with iconoclastic Japanese
LED installation artist Tatsuo Miyajima on the visuals for
the show, which the promoters are suggesting will be a spectacular
and hugely expensive production.
Massive Attack play Tokyo Bay NK
Hall on March 25. See listings for details.