Album review

Massive Attack : 100th Window

Massive Attack : 100th WindowAfter a couple of spins of 100th Window, the first thing you notice is the lack of a killer tune to draw you in . . . no Unfinished Sympathy, no Karmacoma, no Teardrop - and yes, your memory isn't playing tricks on you; Teardrop was that damn good. First single Special Cases comes close - and possibly makes the grade in isolation - but gets lost in the all-pervading widescreen claustrophobia which underpins the entirity of 100th Window's running time.
    Despite losing founder members Mushroom and Daddy G - the latter admittedly temporarily - since the recording of 1998's Mezzanine, the new Robert '3D' Del Naja-fronted Massive Attack treads familiar territory. It's deep, it's dark, you wouldn't want to dance to it - unless you like dressing up as Neo at the weekends - and it probably sounds best on headphones in a darkened room. Sharing Del Naja's mission of the morose this time round are reggae icon Horace Andy - not the first time on a Massive Attack disc for him - and the truly barking Sinead O'Connor. 3D fills in the gaps with his own vocals, and that's pretty much your lot.

100th Window works on the level of 70-odd minutes cloying mood music that only Massive Attack and Death In Vegas have ever really managed. On this basis Future Proof, Everywhen and Antistar are slickly produced insights into the minds of the disturbed.
    Where 100th Window doesn't work is on the level of a bunch of great tunes - y'know, traditional album values. All the tracks here - including Special Cases - are pretty much interchangeable, and could easily be brought up on charges on being a soundtrack to an imaginary film - surely the worst crime of dark dance music (except possibly having Paul Weller as a guest vocalist). So, good, but not great. Damning with faint praise? So be it.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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