I should probably disclose my relationship with Massive Attack. I discovered them as a companion to the mass amounts of Portishead I was listening to my freshman year of college. And a year later, they were the sole soundtrack to my life while I was engaging in “less than desirable” behavior. Once I shed my extreme debauchery skin, I found that Massive Attack may just be too dangerous to listen to. So, I shelved them for about 3 years, fearing relapse. Since then, I’ve found that I can dip my toes back into the troubled waters that are Massive Attack.
All that time, I was awaiting another album from the Britons ( at one time reduced to a single Briton). In 2006, I was teased with the single “False Flags,” thinking an album announcement was just around the corner. Instead, I got utter silence, and the trip-hop voices in my head began to demand satisfaction. Fast forward to 2009, and I’m teased yet again with the release of another proper LP. While the group now says “spring 2010,” they did deliver upon us the Splitting the Atom EP, which has raised more questions than answered.
The EP only puts forth two new songs, alongside two remixes. It’s safe to say, that Massive Attack are still able to produce that “sexy, slow crawl” trip-hop sound. “Pray For Rain” is a curious number featuring the vocals of TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. The song is built around a strong, off-time drum beat, and features and excellent breakdown in the middle. It’s a definite slow burn, building up tension over it’s 6 minutes, before fading out at the end. It’s nothing really revolutionary for the genre. Actually, it sounds like it came off the stellar 1995 album Maxinquaye, by former Massive Attack collaborator, Tricky. Which, may not be new, is still a sound I’d love to welcome back into my life.
The title track, “Splitting The Atom,” is probably a better preview of what Massive Attack’s fifth LP will sound like. It’s shows us a Massive Attack that still builds a good atmosphere, but fails to really offer up any stand out moments. It’s a song that seems like it’s building up to a great pay off, only to simply end.
I’m still not willing to say that I’m disappointed with Splitting The Atom. However, it doesn’t exactly put my mind at ease. With the return of original member Mushroom, I still have hopes that a memorable Massive Attack LP is on the way. I’m just worried that they’re only shooting for middle rung material these days. But if 2010 passes us by, sans Massive Attack release, I’m probably just going to have to quiet those trip-hop ghosts and accept that Massive Attack just couldn’t survive in the new millennia.