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    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010

    When I was a young man, the first four albums (counting No Protection here) defined an entire year of my life, basically rewriting my Punk/Industrial brain, and since there seems to be a lot of Electronic Music fans on the board, I suspect I'm not the only one who had this experience.

    So far, I think this might be a return to form. I've only listened to it once all the way through though, so I'm still processing it.

    Of course, however good it is, I expect it'll be eclipsed by the Burial remix album.

    The first video is quite something as well:
    • CommentAuthordot_xom
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    I haven't picked it up yet nor heard the entire album, but I've liked what little I've heard from the Splitting the Atom EP and the Girl, I Love You remix they've already released. You called it "a return to form", Agitpunkt, but personally, I don't think Massive Attack are ever off form. As far as I'm concerned, it's not a matter of whether this is a good album, just a case of how good it is.

    Look forward to dropping my two cents when I do buy this.
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    @ dot_xom

    "Return to form", mostly because of the length of time between this and Mezzanine (not everyone can be Portishead) and the fact that I was less than thrilled with 100th Window and Danny the Dog, both of which just seemed like treading water. This one feels like more of a progression.
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    After a few listens (via Spotify, here) this feels surprisingly vocal-driven. This is the first time I've gotten the feeling the production has taken a backing role to the vocals.
  1.  (7722.5)

    I understand being non-plussed by 100th Window, but it still had some real highlights - some that are actually up there with my favourite Massive Attack songs (love Future Proof and Anti-Star, they're just so dark and unsettling). Haven't heard the new stuff yet, but can't wait.
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010 edited
    I big problem with Massive Attack's works is that I take every album and compare it to Mezzanine, an album that I still listen to withthe love I had for it when I first listened to it, and it NEVER measures up. I know it's not fair...

    And this album was no exception.
      CommentAuthorPaul Sizer
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010 edited
    Here's how I see it:
    Massive Attack won me over from the start by how they combined so many influences into a cohesive mix. Dub, reggae, electronics, dance/club influences, rap, hip hop, all things that, if combined badly, would result in a horrible sludge of fighting and dissonance. But what made Massive Attack really standout was their fearlessness at then, on top of all that, bringing in vocalists that actually had a different angle on all of it. Tricky, Horace Andy, Tracy Thorn, Sinead O'Connor, Liz Fraser. And they let these vocalists do what they do, and in some way, it all seemed like it belonged together. The mix is their strength. Always.

    My vote for strongest album is "Protection", followed right on the heels by "Mezzanine". "100th Window" and "Danny The Dog" only suffered because they strayed from the vocalist in the mix quotient, and became more a solo project of Robert Del Naja. And while he is a brilliant producer of sounds, I think he realized that his true strength lies in working with great vocalists. Hence "Heligoland".

    I will venture to drop "Heligoland" in at #3 for me, only because of the slightly uneven nature of "Blue Lines", which I'll put at #4. Part of Massive Attack's earlier albums being so ahead of the curve were that NOBODY was doing what they do. Now, there's a whole generation of musicians who have had Massive Attack's albums as part of their learning process, so they don't stand apart as much as they once did. But they must know this, because while many bands sound like them, nobody really sounds as good as they do at it.

    My first comment on hearing Gil Scott-Heron's new stuff was "Man, THIS is what Massive Attack needs to sound like." But I'll take that back a bit; Gil's new music fits very nicely in the mold made by Massive Attack years ago. Dubstep owes it's genesis at least in part to what Massive Attack paved. I loved hearing Scott-Heron's new music because it reminded me of hearing Massive Attack's mixture.

    I'll give "Heligoland" a 9 out of 10, only because I want to hear more of the remixes that are sure to come from this album, and because they can always still surprise me, so I give them room to do so.
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    @Paul Sizer - Heh, that comparison with GS-H was my first thought, too. Your point is good.
  2.  (7722.9)
    I listened to it twice so far. I think it's just "O.K.". my favorite two tracks so far is "Girl I Love You" and "Paradise Circus". I've been listening to the album with headphones and I don't think the production is as layered as "100th Window" either.
  3.  (7722.10)
    I'd eat, then shit glass if I could insure I'd never have to listen to Heligoland. I've given this thing enough plays and almost all of the songs are just hallow. No depth, no swagger. For something they've worked/sat on for this long to feel like a raw demo leads me to question their workflow. I've read that for this album they split into two studio units for most of the production and maybe that's where the disease lays. Instead of the 2 main creative forces trying to both fight their way into the tracks each took the balls to their own respective homes. Another aspece is the bass. The groove element is totally off. For a band as influential to UK bass music to turn in the least sexy album since the soundtrack to the Watchmen is totally wack.

    Pulling up the Split the Atom EP and comparing the album version of Psyche w/ the Subliminal Kid and Van Rivers remix really shows this. VR+SubK are on fire right now following their production on the Fever Ray album and make the song work. The album version is like music for a tampon commercial. At least they handed the album over to Burial for a remix treatment. Burial + more Van Rivers+Sublimal Kid + more Christoff Berg remixes please.
      CommentAuthorPaul Sizer
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    Just curious, Taco, have they ever clicked with you on an album? I knew you had been down on this, just curious if they had been good for you, and just recently fallen?

    Agreed though, I can't wait to hear what Burial does with it.
    • CommentAuthorales kot
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010 edited
    I agree with Tacopunch. Massive Attack are one of the most important bands of my last decade, and Heligoland sounds..empty, like a coke addict after three days and nights without sleep.

    My favorite albums are 1) 100th Window 2) Mezzanine 3) Protection/Blue Lines, all of them rich, well-produced and massively influential, most of them even groundbreaking. Heligoland, instead, sounds like Axl Rose convincing Slash to ''do it one more time, bro'' while desperately trying to figure out if he's got anything left to say.
  4.  (7722.13)

    Yes. I have vinyl+CD of all the albums up to Mezz (CD only of 100th Window), some eps, plus the thermal sensitive boxset. (It's really cool!)
    To join in the group thought experiment if I was to only ever listen to Massive Attack for the rest of my life my preference in album played would be
    1) Mezz 2) Protection 3) Blue Lines 4) 100th Window 5) MA vs. MP 6) anything ... 999) Heligoland

    Here's a photo of the box.

      CommentAuthorPaul Sizer
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010 edited
    Yeah, I've got the thermal box set as well; freaked me out because I got it in the winter time, and one sunny day I came into my hot studio and didn't recognize the box, as it had been in the sun and turned white. I love putting as many of the remix discs as I can into a CD changer and just letting it make new albums.

    I'm going to sit with HELIGOLAND a few more days, see if the "Oooh, it's a new album" buzz wears off some, but I still think it will stick at #3 for me. Who knows, I may be eating glass with you by next week... It's good to see people with such high expectations for musicians. It's getting fewer and farther between these days.
    • CommentAuthordot_xom
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    Blue Lines was always my favourite MA album. Still is. But they're all solid works in their own right. I just picked up Heligoland today. Giving it a listen at work right now. Think I'll have to listen to it outside this environment to get a real feel of it. That said, liking it so far.
      CommentAuthorCameron C.
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2010 edited
    Pray for Rain, Splitting the Atom, Paradise Circus, and Saturday Comes Slow are my favorites. awesome awesome awesome.

    The other stuff isn't bad, but just hasn't hit me the right way YET. I havent liked any of their albums a lot at first, but now they are some of my favorite albums ever. It just takes a while for me to get to that point of liking them/actually not liking them.
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2010
    Not too excited by the new material, even though I have seen lots of excellent video being inspired by the new album.

    Going to see Massive Attack tonight at Hammersmith Apollo and should be meeting them too. Will feedback on how the new stuff works live tomorrow like some kind of Whitechapel embedded journalist.
    • CommentAuthorprof_k
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2010
    Only listened to about half the album so far, but my initial reaction is: holy shit, this thing sounds digital and cold. Like Taco said, the groove is totally missing.

    That said, I do think it is good, but that is different from enjoying listening to it. Maybe I'll warm to it like I did with 100th window, maybe not... hard to tell so far. Did get Splitting the Atom stuck in my head though, which may be a good sign.
  5.  (7722.19)
    Finally had a few listens.

    Is it just me, or does Heligoland seem kind of... bare? Massive Attack usually have a really deep, layered sound that they only seem to hint upon during Paradise Circus. The rest of it is... meh. For Massive Attack it's a poor effort.

    It's good, but it's not Massive Attack good (which is better than damn near everything).
  6.  (7722.20)
    "Pray For Rain" sticks in my head, persistently. (I can't say that for anything on 100th Window, though that had some nice work on it.) The rest of Heligoland deserves more than the single listen I've given it so far, but there are tracks there that I know will grow on me.