Thursday, May 14, 2009

4. Mezzanine - Massive Attack, 1998 (Best of the 90s)


Massive Attack
Virgin Records.

In its first decade alone, this record has become a mind-bending anomaly. Think about it: its popularity broke barriers between indie-kids and major-labels, pirate radio and blockbuster movies, obscure electronic subgenres and radio-rock homogenization, geeks who watch House and geeks who watch The Matrix, and between super-fan critics and shlubs who think Triphop might be some follow-up sensation to the Macarena. People of the same ignorance might even argue that such walls were torn asunder thanks to two tracks - ‘Angel’ (heard in just about every self-serious movie from 1998 through 2002) and ‘Teardrop’ (likewise…) but that would be discounting the power Mezzanine truly wields. Those two tracks may’ve taken Robert Del Naja and Co. to a stratosphere most bands dare not dream of but, when all trends die (Matrix wardrobes, lame hospital dramas, Triphop, whatever), Mezzanine will still stand as one of the most influential albums of the decade. Who could question a creativity that melded middle-eastern samples to ‘Inertia Creeps’, Velvet Underground samples to ‘Rising Son’, post-punk era Cure to ‘Man Next Door’ and Isaac Hayes’ swank to ‘Exchange’, all the while perfecting a subgenre they invented? Written on paper, such ideas sound goofy… their odds of success fanatical. Yet Mezzanine sounds virtually free of any samples or, for that matter, any knowledge of pop music before being sharpened and twisted into this nightmarish but timeless exoskeleton.

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