If you combine reverberating, hip-hop bass lines, down-tempo electronica, guest vocalists running the gamut of bird-like songstress to monotone rapper, melodies dripping with funk and soul, orchestral arrangements and the occasional appearance of an angsty guitar you have Massive Attack and all their beautiful dichotomies. With so many strange ingredients thrown together it is surprising that the potion tastes so sweet, but this is what makes them a prime gateway band. What better way to introduce the palate to new flavors than to throw together an unconventional concoction?
Credited as the founders of the genre trip hop (typically defined as down-tempo electronica and hip-hop), Massive Attack has been making innovative music since the late 80s. The duo of Robert “3D” Del Naja and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall (originally a trio with Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles) primarily act as producers with various singers appearing throughout their albums. These vocalists serve to introduce another dimension to the song, softening the edges of some tracks while enhancing the tension in others. Some songs have no singers at all and fully emphasize that the music always remains the focus and identity of the band.
Infusing electronica with hip-hop has paved the way for so many others to destroy the stereotypical association of electronic music with raves and glow sticks. The music of Massive Attack is haunting, intoxicating, dramatic and danceable, which invites an emotional reaction and encourages curiosity.
Has any electronic music managed to sneak its way into your music library? Do you think dance/ electronic music has emerged from its pigeonhole?
If you like: The Chemical Brothers, Sneaker Pimps, Zero 7
Check out: Massive Attack (start with “Teardrop” and the album Mezzanine, progress with “Girl I Love You” and the album Heligoland, graduate to “Unfinished Sympathy” and Blue Lines)
Feeling brave: Bibio, The Avalanches, Memory Tapes, Portishead, Air
AI level: Intermediate