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Heligoland

4.0 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (8 Feb. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B002ZPIC1M
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,525 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Digital Booklet: Heligoland
Digital Booklet: Heligoland
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Product Description

Product Description

Massive Attack are a seminal group of musical innovators whose early work detonated the Bristol music scene of the early 90's and unwittingly gave birth to "trip-hop". The group formed in 1987 around their influential and legendary Dug Out club and Jamaican-style soundsystem, playing a blend of hip hop, new wave reggae, early house and techno which shaped their acclaimed 1991 debut, Blue Lines. Mezzanine, their third album released in 1998 proved to be a creative and commercial peak selling in excess of three million albums.

Four years after the release of their best of album Collected and seven years since their last studio album 100th Window, Massive Attack return with their fifth studio album. Heligoland features original band members Daddy G and 3D, long time cohort Horace Andy and guest vocals from Damon Albarn, Hope Sandoval, Martina Topley-Bird, Guy Garvey and Tunde Adebimpe.

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BBC Review

Startling as this may be to thirtysomethings who grew up in prescribed awe of Massive Attack, but a whole new generation has arisen in the 12 years since their last pivotal album, Mezzanine, a generation to whom the Bristol duo are at best peripheral. So while an army of griping fans and sniping critics will argue that Heligoland doesn’t match their early triumphs, or break as much new ground, there will be younger listeners who hear it as something entirely new and recognise it for the gloomily, beguiling beauty it is.

Well, perhaps not entirely new. There are echoes throughout – of Radiohead, Portishead, even the crunching drums and soaring strings of Timbaland – which might make you think Massive Attack have finally become derivative, until you remember that they actually invented these strange, spooked sounds 20 years ago, only to see them plundered since. They’ve added new sonic flourishes – fidgety TV on the Radio guitars, some skittering Warp Records beats – but the emperors are mostly wearing their old clothes, though more stylishly than in years.

Another minor point: Heligoland could well be Massive Attack’s most consistent album. There are no songs as dazzlingly, blindingly perfect as Unfinished Sympathy, or Teardrop (although the gorgeous, satiny melancholy of Paradise Circus comes desperately close), but nor are there as many lesser tracks hiding in their shadows. The folksy, flimsy Psyche is forgettable, but every other song works its way stealthily and irrevocably under your skin, with that trademark combination of understatement and sonic richness.

Just listen to the gothic magnificence of the opening Pray For Rain, with its death-rattle percussion, mournful organ and mesmeric Tunde Adebimpe vocal, or the creeping, narcotic groove of the closing Atlas Air. In between there are songs as sleepily, dreamily rambling as Splitting the Atom (a return to the ghostly vocal interplay and dubby terrain of Risingson) or as pared down and single-minded as Rush Minute, with its relentlessly lapping waves of bubbling bass and rippling guitars.

Massive Attack spent their first 12 years as breathtaking pioneers, while 99.9% of their rivals might manage ten minutes of such inspiration. They may never be as original again, but as long as they make albums as rich, textured and seductive as Heligoland they will remain one of our most fascinating, extraordinary bands. --Jaime Gill

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Massive Attack.

Just the name itself suggests waves of dubby synths, deep basslines, martial yet half-asleep beats and croony vocals. Sure, they helped define a genre for the 90s, that lame "trip hop" tag so many claimed to be part of and so few deserved, producing much groundbreaking music, especially in the shape of their debut "Blue Lines" (1991), which helped set DJ culture into the mainstream, and "Mezzanine" (1998) that added heavy, howling guitars in the mix to a mostly stunning effect.

So, what's to expect from this, their 5th album proper in a mere twenty years career ? Well, as many other reviewers noted, a bit of the same and something different at once. First striking thing is the actual sound of the whole record. Some pointed out a supposed return to the coldness of "Mezzanine", but that's not at all what I hear here. If "100th Window", their 2003 effort, was a letdown to many fans, being more of a 3D solo effort than a collective work, in fact it furthered the post-punk hint "Mezzanine" suggested, replacing the loud guitar shriek with icy electro beats. The results were, to say the least, mixed, but at least it was still seeking forward, sonically speaking. On "Heligoland", by contrast, everything is understated, from the drum patterns to the shy basslines, from a quiet organ part in the background to voices you feel are more dreamt than actually performed. That's a record that almost begs forgiveness for existing at all, rather than punching its pride in your face, which is why it probably won't get among die-hard fans (let alone the mainstream) the same praise as their giddy peaks mentioned above.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
To be honest, I overlooked this album when it first came out. The main reason was that the previous album, 100th Window, was incredibly one-paced, and, for want of a better word, dreary. The tracks on that album had poor lyrics, and one dimensional vocalists Del Naja (ok for a track or so) & Sinead O'Connor (?), and the tracks had no hooks, no progression, no definition, no edge, and for me, held no interest, sounding slightly muzaky.

Heligoland is what i call vintage Massive Attack. The variation is there, and a decent array of guest vocalists are present. So, in some respects this is like Blue Lines, but has more in common with Mezzanine, sounding quite dark and dense. 'Flat of the blade' does give the listener some restbite from that heavy atmosphere though, but even this track evolves and brings the listener back in by it's conclusion - it serves as a puncuation for the album (a good thing in my opinion). Whether Heligoland will hold my interest like Blue Lines (which, incidently, is starting to sound a little dated) and Mezzanine, or will suffer the same fate as Protection (which was accomplished but a little 'safe'), remains to be seen. I suspect it won't lose my interest because it has that slightly haunting quality and distinctive enough tracks. It will take quite a few listens to understand this album - more than the usual 4 or 5, i'm talking 10+ listens.

This has gone under the radar a bit, with people having unrealistic expectations of it, but trust me, there is some real quality here. A lot of the tracks ebb and flow with real aplomb, changing continually, most of which is subtly engaging in different ways, never stagnating, never repeating the same vocalists or patterns across the course of the album. No real standout tracks, but then why should there be? This is an album in the true sense of the word. It's going to be spending quite a lot of time in my CD player over the next few months.
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Format: Audio CD
This album is not going to be liked by all fans of Massive Attack, or at least not right away. The depth of music of Blue Lines or Protection, or the intensity of Mezzanine seems to be lacking here, although probably everyone will notice that the music is stronger that anything we have heard from Massive Attack in the last 12 years. I would dare suggest that the depth of music is still here, but it has been...relocated. Miles Davis once said that his musical style kept changing on him, just like a curse. Well, after 16 years in business Massive Attack has gone experimental, atmospheric and minimalist all at once. However, all those changes affect mostly the added layers of the background of their music.

I have to say honestly that I have been disillusioned with a lot of new music of various styles, lately, and this new album by Massive Attack to me is one of the nicest musical surprises of the last many months, ever since Porcupine Tree's The Incident was released. The incorporation of the experimental ambient layers of sound in addition to the industrial tones which for a long time have been with Massive Attack makes this album unique to me. The overall mood is mellow, peaceful and reflective but it spreads over a wide sound texture. These songs may sound simple and plain at first, but they do grow on us with repetitive listening. I really feel like with this album the music of Massive Attack positioned itself somewhere between Massive Attack and Radiohead, and that is a perfect place to be in. Really, the Zoviet France like undertones of a few of their new songs (this album hides many jewels in the back of itself and its songs) are exactly the layers which make the music of Radiohead so addictive. The song number 7 for example, reminds me a little bit of Radiohead's Videotape.
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