- Five years is perhaps a long time to wait for a seminal band like Massive Attack to release an album, but as previous efforts have shown, their releases are always the work of a group of musicians who are unwilling to settle within a mould. Admiringly evolving their various influences into something other than the staple genre of trip hop, which they undeniably lent a hand in pioneering, their new selection ‘100th Window’ grows beyond to become a beautifully dark cauldron of silent electronica.
The first notable change is the absent wash of guitars that so permeated their last effort, ‘Mezzanine’. In place is the sway and swell of synthetic strings and dubbed up bleeps, letting the songs breath smoothly with a calmness that belies the crashes evident on past tunes. This creates a very minimal, quiet atmosphere through the entire album, pulsing and soothing out the tension, but leaving the listener alert for the questions that lie within the lyrics.
Which delivers us to the next obvious inclusion to this album – the introduction of Sinead O’Connor as guest vocalist. Massive Attack have shown unsurmountable quality in infusing the character of visiting musicians to the fold before with the delectable talents of Tracey Thorn and Liz Fraser. This time round Sinead O’Connor has added an undeniable beauty to the songs she contributes on. Her voice takes on a quality not usually heard on her own conventional material, becoming dark and sombre with the background wash of synth strings and minimal electro.
Overall, it’s a brilliant release from the group, once again transcending the norm of what is conventional within electronic music at the moment. Fans of their former more dynamic albums might find this more ambient effort a bit wanting, but in the current struggles within the world between war and peace, perhaps it’s just what we need.