Tuesday, May 4, 2010

412 Mezzanine- Actually quite a clever title when you think about it.

Album: Mezzanine
Artist: Massive Attack
Year: 1998
Genre: Trip Hop.

Tracks

1. Angel
2. Risingson
3. Teardrop
4. Inertia Creeps
5. Exchange
6. Dissolved Girl
7. Man Next Door
8. Black Milk
9. Mezzanine
10. Group Four
11. (Exchange)

Massive Attack pretty much invented a genre known as Trip Hop which blends the beats and vocal styles of Hip Hop with the attitude of a County Cricket match. They say that necessity is the mother of invention but I'm not sure that it was an actual need that possessed the members of Massive Attack to come up with a new musical genre. I'm not sure that anyone was listening to Hip Hop and thinking it was all very well but just not laid back enough. "This is some quite good hopping I just wish it was less hip and a bit more... I don't know- trippy for want of a better word."

While I'm not sold on the music I think the name is fantastic. Trip Hop is a perfect description of what this album sounds like. You could almost believe that the creators of this album set out to record a full on hip-hop release but were sabotaged by a dose of LSD that someone slipped into the water cooler. "Okay this next song is about how great I am and how I'm the greatest rapper in the world...and...and... woaah- I just realised we're all the greatest rappers in the world. All of us. No... more than that, the world itself is like the ultimate rapper! And we're not rappers we're like- unwrappers whose job it is to unwrap the layers of rhymes that wrap up the world. Yeah. It's not about rapping it's about unwrapping. Wow. Did anyone hear me breath just then? We should totally use that, that should be the song man the breathing and the unwrapping... yeah this is really it.... hey why does the mic have a face like my mother?"

The most famous song on Mezzanine is Teardrop which you may know as the theme for House (although you may not, since it's only used fairly briefly and without the vocals). Teardrop is difficult to describe if you haven't heard it. The centerpiece is definitely the other-worldly vocals performed by Elizabeth Fraser which sort of float across the track sounding less like a human being and more like a rainforest singing in the shower. While reading up on Mezzanine I was fascinated to learn that it had been covered by other artists which I found surprising because I couldn't imagine anyone being able to pull it off. The best thing about Teardrop is the fact that tune is catchy and fragile at the same time. It makes you want to sing along but afraid that if you do the whole thing will crash around your ears, and not just your own rendition but Fraser's as well. If you try and join in you'll put her off and somehow break the song for everyone else. This explains why the instrumentation around her is so low-key, they didn't want to destroy what was happening.

Teardrop is a great song but sadly it's definitely the album's highpoint. The rest of Mezzanine is dominated by pointless rapping. It made me realise that while I find most of the Ego-driven lyrics of Hip Hop stars intensely irritating it's not just their endless boasting that puts me off. While Massive Attacks rapping is a lot more trippy it's still a bit annoying. I struggle to find anything to latch onto in the album as a whole. For me it's like Teardrop is a great single accompanied by 10 lesser B-sides.

Highlight: Teardrop.
Lowlight: Probably Black Milk

Influenced by: Hip Hop and LSD
Influenced: Everyone else who has called themselves Trip Hop.


Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I don't pay much attention to pop music. But, sadly, when I do I find little reason to change my habits. The praise lavished on these recordists made me curious, though I was utterly befuddled by this praise when I heard them. Their sound approximates a group of kids playing with casio keyboards in someone's basement."

-I love the fact that he called them recordists. And isn't it great how the basement is always the chosen location when you're trying to deride someone's musical efforts?

So do you appreciate music with an extra level or would you rather we took the mezzanine out? Let me know below

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