Massive Attack Box Their Trip-Hop (Rolling Stone 3rd April 2006)
Nearly two decades of the influential U.K. dance pioneers pack one set
"It's difficult looking back," says Robert "3D" Del Naja of Bristol, England, trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack. "You should put a best-of out at the end of your career -- but you never know when it's going to end." But 3D has pulled it off, finally assembling a greatest-hits compilation, Collected, due this Tuesday.
Collected pulls from Massive Attack's sixteen-year career with four albums: 1991's Blue Lines, 1994's Protection, 1998's Mezzanine and 2003's 100th Window. Their soundtrack work is also featured, including songs from Blade II, as well as previously unreleased material and rarities. Stretching over two discs, Collected also features a DVD component of every video the group has made. "It gives us the opportunity to expose stuff that's been long on the shelf," says Del Naja. "The whole process of putting this together has been about the new things: the artwork, the videos, the tour."
Looking forward, there is one entirely new track on the compilation: "Live With Me," with Terry Callier on vocals. The orchestral and jazzy song was initially written for a soundtrack to a film that was never released. Its video was directed by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast), a longtime collaborator. Other Massive Attack cohorts make appearances on the set, including Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and Horace Andy.
Fraser and Andy also guest on the trio's upcoming 2007 studio album, which will feature extensive co-writing with TV on the Radio's David Sitek and Mike Patton (Faith No More). Del Naja and the other active member of Massive Attack, Grant "Daddy G" Marshall (who was absent from the last record), have never had a writing relationship. Instead, they work individually and come together once they have an almost finished product. For their latest effort, Del Naja is working with Neil Davidge, who produced their last two albums, while Marshall is working with production group the Robot Club.
"It's been exciting to force everyone's ideas in the same place and see what mess you can make," says Del Naja. "But after you've been working with people for so long, maybe your personalities will make all the mess and the music won't be interesting at all. When you get to know someone so well, it's difficult to surprise each other or do things the other person doesn't know about already."
As for what will change this time around, Marshall adds, "I'm trying to put right what I didn't agree with on the last album. Massive Attack has always been this multicultural project with a multicultural view on sound. I want to readdress that. I'm putting a bit more soul back into it, trying to even up the balance."
by Lily Moayeri