Album: Massive Attack, Heligoland (Virgin)

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The Independent Culture

While Heligoland is by no means the etiolated snoozefest that was 2003's 100th Window, it's still far from the unsettling heights of Mezzanine, which it strives desperately to emulate both in terms of mood and texture, and in its liberal use of guest vocalists, among them Damon Albarn, Guy Garvey and Hope Sandoval, alongside Bristol trip-hop staples Horace Andy and Martina Topley-Bird.

The most impactful of these is Garvey, who in "Flat Of The Blade" sketches a traumatised warrior over oddly blithe humming and bleepy electronica: "I got skills I can't speak of... things that I've seen will chase me to the grave". TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe is similarly impressive on the opening "Pray For Rain", but the backing track is just the first of several exercises in the kind of amorphous foreboding that has long been Massive Attack's house style, all lowering keyboards and overcast synth pads chased by brittle electro beats. Hope Sandoval's trademark sultry enervation is effectively set among the sparse piano, vibes and hand-clap groove of "Paradise Circus", while 3D's own undercover murmur is best supported by the itchy, asthmatic "Rush Minute" and the undulating organ dub groove of "Atlas Air". But overall there are too many pale reflections of former glories to regard Heligoland as the return to form some have claimed.

Download this Flat of the Blade; Atlas Air; Paradise Circus