If there were ever soundtracks for dreams, Massive Attack would certainly be the group contracted for the job. However, when I say dreams, I don’t mean the state of happy bliss we have the privilege to fall into when the world is ice cream clouds, your friends are My Little Ponies and everything smells of fresh-baked cookies. I am speaking about the dark dream world that we more commonly experience.
Dubbed as “trip-hop,” the group’s music can be described as chill, if not solemn. They have been heard in movies like “Snatch” and have worked with other offbeat artists such as David Bowie. This should give you a good idea of what to expect.
The not-quite-electronica group released a compilation album in late March titled “Collected.” However popular, the band is somewhat of a cult classic, so don’t expect to see their next video on MTV.
Hailing from Bristol, UK, the group has produced music that has paved the road for groups like The Sneaker Pimps, Portishead and more influential DJs who have pushed the trance-dance scene. On “Collected,” you can find carefully chosen samplings from the group’s 15-year career. Compilations, in theory, are the best albums of all because they simply take all the best songs off of the group’s entire album. You shouldn’t even have to skip a song on a compilation. However, Massive Attack’s most popular album “Mezzanine” clearly contributes most of the stand-out songs on “Collected.”
The hypnotic melodies and the dubby beats are more often the center of attention than the lyrics. Although the lyrics are somewhat drowned out by the new-age tunes, they are rather poetic and the selection of vocalists on a majority of the tracks are top-notch.
Some favorites on the 2-disc set album are “Angel” (from the Snatch soundtrack), “Teardrop” and “Unfinished Sympathy.” “Angel” and “Teardrop” are both on the more haunting/melancholy side, whereas “Unfinished Sympathy” portrays more of a UK club vibe.
Songs like “Karmacoma” and “Joy Luck Club” may not receive as much attention as some of the tracks deemed cinema-worthy, they are extremely innovative works of art. Both tracks feel as if they have roots in traditional cultured music, but are electronically twisted into a more modern scene. “Karmacoma” plays off of African drum beats, and “Joy Luck Club” is enriched with eastern melodies and vocals.
If you have not yet heard Massive Attack, “Collected” is definitely worth a try; the album can be considered a work of art for some, but easy listening for all.
4 out of 5 Rams