Label: Virgin Records
Anyone looking to point the finger at the folks responsible for igniting the “trip-hop” revolution, should know to aim it at Massive Attack. Ever since their seminal 1991 album entitled “Blue Lines,” the British (mostly Bristol) community has been continually redefining what we call “dance music.” Trip-hop’s fusion of dub and soul, mixed with heavy electronic beats, has become a genre unto itself, spawning the critical and commercial successes of former Massive Attacker Tricky, and darker bands like Portishead, Esthero and Statik Sound System.
Massive Attack’s 1995 effort “Protection” was both quieter and less original than its predecessor, but still combined the band’s trademark deep beats with the vocals contributions from Shara Nelson, Horace Andy and others. On “Mezzanine” the band reaches deeper into their brooding grove laden hat, employing Cocteau Twin Elizabeth Fraser on vocals as well as staples Shara Nelson and Horace Andy.
This is a considerably darker album than anything they have done before. On the one hand this is a good thing, I like the downbeat mood set by something this intricately produced. But on the other hand there is a certain richness and joy that seems so intentionally excluded.
For longtime fans of Massive Attack, “Mezzanine” is a record filled with a whole lot of dark eerie soul. At the risk of misrepresenting the texture and feel of this album, I would argue that Massive Attack probe deeper into the core of dance music than anyone has in a while. This is definitely mood music, just make sure you play it to compliment a darker mood.