Do not file under ‘trip-hop’. 100th Window is effectively a Robert “3D” Del Naja solo record, and consequently stands as Massive Attack’s darkest, most expansive effort to date. Founding member Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles left the band following the brooding, guitar-oriented direction the band had taken during the recording of Mezzanine, and remaining bandmate Grant “Daddy G” Marshall didn’t participate in the recording of 100th Window for one reason or another (initial reports suggested he was serving time for drug charges but have since been scrubbed from the Internet). With the help of producer Neil Davidge, Del Naja hones in on the cinematic sound of sprawling Mezzanine standouts “Angel” and “Teardrop,” and turns in 9 of the densest, most claustrophobic tracks in the band’s rich catalog, clocking in at nearly an hour and fifteen minutes. While Mezzanine still retained faint traces of the band’s tender Nellee Hooper-produced urban grooves, 100th Window sees any shred of the band’s jazz or rare groove roots smashed to pieces. The tradeoff comes in the form of chilling electronic-noir excellence like the densely-layered “Future Proof” and “Small Time Shot Away,” both featuring Del Naja’s lead vocals. Horace Andy’s ghostly voice sounds oddly at home on “Name Taken” and “Everywhen,” transcending the severed lineage between Massive Attack’s soundsystem roots (with The Wild Bunch) and the icy sound of 100th Window into a sublime new phase of Andy and Massive’s ongoing collaboration (he’s the only guest vocalist to have contributed to each one of the band’s albums to date). Sinead O’Connor never sounded as good as she does here, taking three of the album’s most sinister cuts (“Special Cases,” “What Your Soul Sings,” “A Prayer For England”) to the next level with her bleak lyrics and urgent delivery. A headphones record for sure. 2017 saw much-needed official represses of Blue Lines, Protection, No Protection and Mezzanine, and Virgin are toasting 2018 in fine style with the first-ever vinyl represses of 100th Window and its elusive follow-up, Heligoland. Recommended.
- first-ever repress of Massive Attack's fourth studio album
- 180g triple vinyl pressing
- tracklisting: A1. Future Proof, A2. What Your Soul Sings, B1. Everywhen, B2. Special Cases, C1. Butterfly Caught, C2. A Prayer For England, D1. Small Time Show Away, D2. Name Taken, E1. Antistar, F1. Hidden Track
- release date: TBD
- music label: Virgin 2018
reviewed by hannibal chew 12/2017