A new studio album from trip-hop group Massive Attack is as significant as the most important artist in your favorite genre releasing a new album. And for Massive Attack, the widely-considered giants and trailblazers of the trip-hop genre, Heligoland is their first non-soundtrack release in seven years.
It’s like clockwork the way musical guests join the duo behind Massive Attack, Daddy G (Grantley Marshall) and 3D (Robert Del Naja). The two, who are perceived as the absolute brain trust behind the project, don’t work all alone, inviting guest singers and musicians to join the hip-hop rhythm and very soulful and electronic mood their sound has been shaped into over the years.
The most notable voice found on the group’s latest album is probably Tunde Adebimpe, better known as the lead singer of TV on the Radio. His vocals kick off the album with “Pray for Rain,” a track that most closely represents Massive Attack and thus remains as one of Heligoland’s most impressive tracks.
The rest of the album is a strong audio adventure through the duo’s most experimental sounds of the trip-hop kind. Daddy G and 3D have always paid great attention to the atmospheric collection of sounds throughout their albums and while Heligoland is no different, much of that atmosphere feels like more background noise than substantial work worth paying attention to.
Still, this album is no waste. It’s just hard to compare to their most impressive work Mezzanine. “Splitting the Atom” features the vocals of both Daddy G and 3D, as well as the often-seen collaborator Horace Andy. The absolute sublime and deep style of vocals engages deeply. “Rush Minute” features 3D alone as the vocalist and complete with hooking beats does a lot for the later half of the album.
I’ve got to say, I’ve never ventured too far into the trip-hop genre, but it’s easy to see why the innovative and influential Massive Attack is considered one of the pioneers of the hip-hop and dub-based genre. Even from an album such as Heligoland, which doesn’t rank among their most brilliant work, can you hear and feel the absolute creativity Daddy G and 3D, along with their numerous guests, throw into their music.