ScanS → Uncut Magazine Review/Interview #1

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Publication Date: Feburary 2003

With Mushroom having left the band and Daddy G taking a sabbatical from the studio to concentrate on family life, it falls to Robert Del Naja (3D) to carry forward Massive Attack into the beyond, in collaboration with Neil Davidge,the producer of their third album Mezzanine (1998).

Without Mezzanine’s layers of guitar, which left some Massive Attack lovers narrowing their eyes doubtfully, 100th Window seems at first subdued. Much as shapes only gradually reveal themselves in an initially pitch black room,so it is with this album, which takes a few listens to become accustomed to.The devil is in the detail, nestled deep in the layered backdrop.
“Future Proof” the opener, seems like generic Massive Attack, with its pulsing, see-saw riff and velveteen ambience, before abstract muezzin shapes hove into your face like bats.”Everywhen”features regular MA vocalist Horace Andy, but there’s something disquietingly irregular about the orbit he’s in here.

There were always ominous overtones to Massive Attack, but 100th Window is especially stark, inculcating the sort of trepidation that comes with staring at the night sky for too long,or staying up too late discussing Noam Chomsky.

There’s a radioactive air about the album which, coupled with the use of Eastern, Arabic strings, brings to musical life a palpable sense of post-September 11 tension. 3D himself admits that”the state of the world has rubbed off on the record”. Sinead O’Connor’s contributions certainly don’t detract from this raw sensitivity to the world. Her voice sounds small and cracked nowadays if from belting out “Nothing Compares 2U once too often, but it’s the more affectingly vulnerable for that. “Special Cases”and, especially,”A Prayer For England” a plea against child abuse, do what she does best – put you on the spot emotionally.

3D’s own vocal contributions are similarly, disturbingly intimate, especially “Small Time Shot Away” while the full force of the album dawns on you like the earth from the moon with the glorious”Antistar”.

Massive Attack take their time, and this album takes time, too. But it takes you there.

3D gives us the lowdown on the new album

UNCUT: Would it be fair to call this a solo album?

3D: No, it’s not like thatJhe make-up of Massive Attack has always been ambiguous. We’ve never conformed to the traditional idea of a band – that old idea of us all gathered round a piano. It’s always been rare for more than two of us to be in the same room at any time.

UNCUT: Seems a while since Mezzanine [released in April 1998]. Why is that?

3D: We worked for 18 months on material with Lupine Howl [the ex-Spiritualized people], which would have sounded very different but we didn’t feel it worked. It was quite scary, canning 18 months’worth of work, but that’s what you have to do if necessary.This album is more complex than Mezzanine; the arrangements are more involved. People are calling it a slow-burner but I think that’s always been the case with our records.

UNCUT: What attracted you to working with Sinead O’Connor?

3D: She has this raw sense of emotion and honesty. With the sort of generic pop singers you get nowadays, that’s rare.

Written By David Stubbs