Info → Flat OF The Blade        

The Volume art exhibt which was a collaboration between Massive Attack and UVA in 2006, was the genesis of the Flat Of The Blade track.

The Volume art exhibt which was a collaboration between Massive Attack and UVA in 2006, was the genesis of the Flat Of The Blade track.

Development

UK Release: 8th February 2010 (Heligoland)

UK Release: 5th October 2009 (Splitting The Atom EP)

Track Duration: 05:30 (Flash Treatment - 06:44)

Formats: Vinyl, Digital. View Discography Entry.

Written By: Robert Del Naja, Grant Marshall, Neil Davidge and Guy Garvey

Produced By: Robert Del Naja and Neil Davidge

Additional Keyboards and Synth Bass: Damon Albarn

Promo Video Directed By: Ewan Spencer

Video Producer: Black Dog Films

Video Duration: 05:30

The genesis of the Flat Of The Blade track began in 2006, when Massive Attack and UVA (the company that provides the LED visuals for Massive Attack's tours) were commissioned by London’s V&A museum to work together on a visual and audio emersion piece. This project would become to be known as "Volume" and appeared at the V&A museum in November 2006, and was subsequently toured at several locations around the world (including Massive Attack's own Meltdown Festival in 2008). You can check out both a video demo of what this art installation was like here and also view high quality photos of it here also.

In the creation of the Volume exhibit, Massive Attack constructed several music loops and distorted drum beats that they decided to reuse when they were putting together what would become the Flat Of The Blade track in late 2007/early 2008 with Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.

3D had wanted to work with Guy Garvey ever since hearing Elbow do a cover version of Massive Attack's Teardrop for BBC1 radio several years ago. For his part, Guy Garvey has said several times in the past that he was a big fan of the trip-hop music scene in the 1990's and that it was a honour to be asked to work with Massive Attack.

Additional Info

Guy Garvey, the lead singer of Manchester band Elbow, would later collaborate with Massive Attack on the track, Battle Box 001.

Guy Garvey, the lead singer of Manchester band Elbow, would later collaborate with Massive Attack on the track, Battle Box 001.

The working title for the track was "Bulletproof Love", and this is still evidenced by the fact that the remix for the track that first appeared on the Splitting The Atom EP in October 2009, went under this name. By the time the Heligoland album came out in February 2010, Massive Attack had renamed the track to its final title of Flat Of The Blade.

Flat Of The Blade is one of several songs Massive Attack collaborated with Guy Garvey on during the Heligoland recording sessions. The other songs (which we are aware of) being – Battle Box 001Red Light and Fatalism).

Blur frontman (and close friend of 3D) Damon Albarn also contributed to Flat Of The Blade. He provided additional keyboards and synth bass during its production. He also contributed in a similar manner to another Heligoland track, Splitting The Atom.

Live Appearances

Flat Of The Blade got its live debut at the Brixton Academy, London on the 17th September 2009. It was played consistently throughout the 2009 tour which lasted from September to November of that year, and was the opening song each night. The track was an instrumental mix of the album version (for the obvious reason that Guy Garvey did not accompany Massive Attack on the tour) and served as a short intro piece for each each show before segueing seamlessly into Heartcliffe Star (a unreleased track that was also played live on this particular tour). Flat Of The Blade (nor Heartcliffe Star, for that matter) have been played live since the 2009 tour.

Variations/Remixes

Bulletproof Love (Van Rivers & The Subliminal Kid Remix) – This remix went under the name of the original title of the track which was called "Bulletproof Love", and which appeared on the SplittingThe Atom EP, 3 months before the Heligoland album was released. The track was remixed by Swedish electronic duo Van Rivers and The Subliminal Kid and is a minimal dub reworking of the original track with the brass parts placed more to the foreground.

Notable Quotes

3D on the background surrounding the Flat Of The Blade track and its lyrical content – This track began with the Victoria and Albert Museum installation that we did with UVA who do our LED lights with us. One of the elements of that was just loads of snare drums flying off when you walked through it, and loads of kick drums underneath your feet. It just sounded mental as a piece of audio, like the musical equivalent to the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan, I guess. We played it to Guy and he went, 'that'll do.' And we built a song from it. The soldier theme was inherent in the idea, but Guy took it to a different level. It was that particular line about 'I'll build for my family a bullet-proof love,' which really struck me. It was really such a lovely image and such a great line, and the track kinda went backwards from that line.  [The Independent – Feburary 2010]

Guy Garvey on how he came to work with Massive Attack –I think 3D heard our cover of Teardrop and said, 'Would you like to work with us?' He made me come to Bristol, sit in a booth with a load of Massive Attack beats and sing for 14 hours.  [NME Magazine – February 2010]

Lyrics

Swedish electronic duo Van Rivers And The Subliminal Kid remixed Flat Of The Blade for its inclusion on the Splitting The Atom EP.

Swedish electronic duo Van Rivers And The Subliminal Kid remixed Flat Of The Blade for its inclusion on the Splitting The Atom EP.

I'm not good in a crowd,
I got skills I can't speak of
Things I've seen will chase me
To the grave

I'm not good in a crowd,
I got skills I can't speak of
Over there
Things that I've seen
Will chase me to the grave

Led with your hands tied
Fetters and flies
You stumble the dunes
Complain to the moon
Backs to the wheel
There's granite to shove

Take it
They give it
So rivet for rivet
I will build for my family a bulletproof love

How does it feel
The weight of the steel?
The weight of the steel
The flat of the blade

How does it feel
To kneel at defeat?
To kneel at defeat
At the choices you make

I'm not good in a crowd,
I got skills I can't speak of
Things I've seen will chase me
To the grave

Backs to the wheel
There's granite to shove

Take it
They give it
And rivet for rivet
I will build for my family a bulletproof love

Promo Video

The promo video for Flat Of The Blade was released online in January 2010 and was directed by photographer Ewen Spencer and filmed in Birmingham. This was Ewen's first music video even though he had done photography before for such bands as the White Stripes and The Streets. The video itself depicts inner city Birmingham and the streets gangs there. All the people featured in the video are real life gang members with the main protagonist being Dwain from the notorious street gang, the Burger Bar Crew.

Quotes About The Video

Really life Birmingham gang member Dwain was the main protagonist of the promo video for Flat Of The Blade.

Really life Birmingham gang member Dwain was the main protagonist of the promo video for Flat Of The Blade.

Video Director Ewen Spencer on the video concept for the Flat Of The Blade video and working with Birmingham gang members on the shoot – “Well the lad I focused on is called Dwain, he’s from Handsworth in Birmingham. He’s associated with the Burger Bar Crew, which is one of big gangs, the other being the Johnsons. I just wanted to put forward the different cultural ideas that are there. So this hopes to raise more questions than just the point of him being in a gang or being a gang member. It’s more about the cultural pureness which doesn’t get too much debate.” [Dazed And Confused – March 2010]

Video Director Ewen Spencer on why he picked the Flat Of The Blade track to turn into a video – “I chose the song because originally it was called ‘Bullet Proof Love’ but it ended up being called ‘Flat of the Blade’. I guess that title works for me too. Anything that has been created is metaphorical, it’s ambiguous, and it’s up to you to interpret what you want from it.  The way I heard it and felt it was more about the idea of family and that’s kind of what Dwain’s existence is about really. In a lot of ways it’s about protecting his culture, protecting his people.” [Dazed And Confused – March 2010]

External Links