Artist: Massive Attack
Label: Circa Records Limited
Summary: Beautifully understated, emotionally engaging, atmospheric.
I really like this album in the same way I really like Leftfield's
album Leftism: it takes reggae and dub sensibilities - mostly a deep
bass that envelopes you, coupled with generous use of the delay
effect - and updates them to a mid-nineties style that still sounds
Another similarity that Massive Attack have to Leftfield is that
they acknowledge the merits of songs over instrumental music without
tying themselves to a single vocalist. This frees both bands to
pick and choose from a variety of talented singers to bring a diverse
range of vocals to their albums, and Protection is no exception.
In contrast to Leftism, however, this is much more downtempo, laid
back and atmospheric. There are no pounding house beats - gentle
sounding drum machines like the CR-78 get more of a workout than the
more imposing TR-909 - and the synthesisers are used mostly to make
shimmering pads, strings and deep bass. While this makes Protection
excellent at providing ambience to a room, it's still got a lot of
sustenance to offer anyone who'll sit down and listen to it with
their full concentration.
Protection is a great example of how a little restraint can have a
big emotional impact. From the piano melodies in Weather Storm and
Heat Miser to the single note acid line in the background of the
title track, this sounds like an album that was finished only when
nothing else could have been taken out.
Massive Attack clearly know what popular music should be about: not
pigeonholing music into genres, and not getting the mix to sound as
loud as possible, but pairing music and words together to stir the
emotions. Protection is as atmospheric as King Tubby's best dubs,
yet as modern as Leftism. Unless you're adverse to modern music in
general, you'll probably find something you like here.