Massive Attack: Cool calm, ‘Collected’

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By Corinne Love

By Corinne Love

After 15 years of creating button pushing albums and soundtracks, fourteen of Massive Attack’s beloved singles have been “Collected.”

The trio from Britain has long been credited with the start of trip-hop and ambience.

Consider, without Massive Attack there would be no Tricky, Portishead and a host of other chill out DJs.

The term “trip-hop” was coined to describe the low, slow, mellow, layered and neurotic orchestration of dance music that was coming out of the underground hip hop UK scene.

Essentially take a hip hop record, slow it down, add strings and that’s a rough pitch of trip hop, now called “chill out.”  

“Collected” is a bit delayed but is all the more needed.

It seems as if lately, the musical landscape has become a rushed, frenzied assortment of sounds, places and emotions that whiz by all too fast. Not with Massive Attack.

Some of the material on “Collected” is 15 years old and still has a originality that has been untouched.

“Karmacoma” an ode to a certain plant, has a jungle heavy drum loop that recalls the 90’s exploration of jungle music, but again it sounds contemporary.

“Inertia Creeps” an obsessive paranoid love song, gains momentum on a thrilling percussion mix and incoherent lyrics that sounds like a rap song gone awry.

Balancing out the creep factor of “Inertia Creeps” is “Protection” featuring a lovelorn Tracey Thorn, showcases Massive Attack’s inclination for R&B backbeat ballads.

The soundscape of Massive Attacks’s audience over the years may have changed, but it remains audibly unscathed by enclosing limitations of commerical and critical expectations.

It’s not often a group on its first album is credited with creating an entire genre of music that to this day remains elusive.

Massive Attack regularly created new sounds with simplistic orgins; the aptly named “Butterfly Caught” literally sounds like a butterfly being held in a mason jar.

For the casual listener who enjoys extensive lyrics, Massive Attack will be a hard listen,often paring down their lyrics to one word verses.

The inclusion of “Live With Me” is the grand finale of “Collected” and spotlights folk singer Terry Callier.

It would be rather easy and simple to write off “Collected” as another greatest hits collection.

Yet, that would be all too easy and Massive Attack is not easy. “Collected” boasts a stellar line up of brilliant singles such as “Angel” followed up by not-so brilliant singles like “Sly.”

The brilliance of “Collected” is not an inclusion of the trio’s most deserving singles, it is the arrangement of including singles that push the right buttons.

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