Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mezzanine / Massive Attack in Berlin

It’s a wonder that Massive Attack’s Mezzanine was ever released.

The album came in midst of a disintegration, as the band’s three core members - Robert Del Naja, Grant Marshall, and Andrew Vowles - were barely on speaking terms (Vowles would leave shortly after its release). Fittingly, the result is an intense, deeply troubling work, but not one merely satisfied with producing catharsis or vitriol. Mezzanine is powerful because of its insidious, relentless mood, mainly derived from Del Naja’s production, with diverse influences ranging from jazz and rock to hip-hop and electronica. The album is not merely a collection of songs, but an immersive experience.

Opener “Angel” features sinister break beats and distorted guitars, but its defining feature is a soulful delivery from the reggae vocalist Horace Andy, setting up a sequence of stunning vocal performances. Del Naja and Marshall entwine raps on the following track, “Risingson,” a nocturnal sequence that samples the Velvet Underground’s “I Found a Reason.” Perhaps most stunning – and undoubtedly the prettiest – is the sublime “Teardrop,” featuring the ethereal voice of Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins. “Inertia Creeps” caps off a remarkable first half with Middle Eastern-style percussion and another strong performance from Del Naja.

While this four song set is insurmountable in quality, the rest of the album does not lag far behind, maintaining an impenetrable moodiness. Additional tracks from Andy (“Man Next Door”) and Fraser (“Black Milk”) maintain vocal diversity, while the eight minute crescendo of “Group Four” brings “Mezzanine” to a climactic conclusion.

Darkness has been a mainstay of music of all genres, but never has it been so seductive.

Previously: Maria Taylor's Lynn Teeter Flower

Massive Attack - Live in Berlin, 2003

1. Future Proof
2. Everywhen
3. Risingson
4. Black Milk
5. Angel
6. Special Cases
7. Karmacoma
8. Butterfly Caught
9. Name Taken
10. Teardrop
11. Mezzanine
12. Hymn of the Big Wheel
13. Safe From Harm
14. Inertia Creeps
15. Antistar
16. Unfinished Sympathy
17. Group Four

Unwind: Here

1 comment:

Mezzanine Floor said...

lol I always love the album art. Wish I could find more stuff on youtube tho

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