Heligoland

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Heligoland
Composer: Massive Attack
Conductor: Massive Attack
Label: Virgin
Release Date: 2010-02-17
Rated: NONE
Genre: Recording

Massive Attack’s fifth album, Heligoland, comes seven years after the release of 100th Window. And it’s been almost a dozen years since Mezzanine, a defining album of the U.K. trip-hop scene they helped spearhead. Grant Marshall and Robert del Naja and their ubiquitous cast of guest vocalists are in fine form here. TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe guests on the death-rattling album opener “Pray for Rain,” while Martina Topley-Bird charms on the dissonant “Babel.” “Splitting the Atom” would’ve been a perfect vehicle for Tom Waits, but Marshall, del Naja, and Horace Andy convey the same mood. The blips and bleeps on “Flat of the Blade” dance around Elbow singer Guy Garvey’s wandering vocals. The closest Heligoland gets to a ray of sunshine is Hope Sandoval singing about the devil, coupled with hand claps, on “Paradise Circus.” But there are other moments of hope tucked deep within the shadows: On “Saturday Come Slow,” Damon Albarn’s world-weary vocals are paired with acoustic guitar and throbbing bass to evoke the hectic pace of modern life. — Jeremy Willets

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