40’s Insights – Mezzanine

Preconceived Notions:  This one’s my choice which I thought was no longer a choice b/c Marissa had another Massive Attack one lined up, but….what the hell?  I don’t know if I’m a really a fan of Massive Attack as a whole…their latest releases haven’t really grabbed me.  But there’s just something about this album that sets it apart from the others.  It’s probably the overall better vocal performances on this one than most of their other efforts.

After Listening:  There’s a lot to like on this one.  The repetition and basic melodic aspects might lull someone into thinking there isn’t a lot going on here….but they’d be wrong.  The album has some excellently sounding dark overtones…but those are like shadows which you’re not so much afraid of…but attracted by the mystery of….some of the tracks (like Exchange) I picture as being the soundtrack to smoke rings – somehow without being all that trippy. The bass lines on most of the tracks ride the line between driving, and subtle support….the drums oscillate between sounding highly digitalized and at other moments sound like a tabla you might see lying on your roommates floor in college.   If I do have small criticisms of this thing, it’s the songs where they make the monotone rapping forefront.  I don’t need that.  Nobody needs that, stick to the clever song collages and more Elizabeth Fraser please. (I know she’s not actually part of the group)    Taken as an entire album experience this has a lot of style variances from song to song.  Do they all have similar attributes?…absolutely, but vocals, rhythms, harmonies on each make most of the tracks stand out on their own.  The one potential flaw with listening to the entire album is that I will concede that overall the tempo is laid back…so I suppose (and I’m guilty of this as well) you can drift into thoughts on this and not focus on the music.  That’s when you start throwing around terms like “Atmospheric” and comparing to music from movies….and there’s a perfectly legit side to doing that as well, and to me those are closer to what’s at the heart of this thing than generic terms like “trip hop”.

Favorite Tracks:  “Angel” – it’s that baseline- driving-but not edgy, put the drums on top make for a sort of quasi horror movie feel.
Dissolved Girl – F yeah.  Fraser + distorted sythn guitar – sign me up.  A whole album of this wouldn’t likely have been as good – but this is the perfect spot.  Probably my favorite track. Like a film noire piece with some serious balls.
Teardrop – This is the closest thing to a real “hit” these guys ever had. It’s what drew me into the album, and it’s simple but powerfully awesome. I almost mentioned it when we were talking about rainy day music yesterday.  The piano and Elizabeth Fraser voice are an awesome combo.
Group 4 – Eery at points atonal background sythn, Fraser’s voice prominent….the rest of the vocals more in the mix…almost the merging of all the types of vocal attacks on the album in interplay….the drumming seems to move between acoustic and drum machine…. a slow build which adds guitars in a muddy bass mix as the vocals gain intensity.  This one track seems to best represent the entire album in its scope, talent, and ambition.  People have been complaining to listen to tracks outside of grooveshark to get the full effect….this track is probably the biggest victim of the site’s compression so far…and it’s still sounds intense.

Least Favorite Tracks – Rising son – not one of my favorites – the bass line sounds like a cool upright bass, but the dudes vocals are sort of out of place out front, however the song takes a nice switch about halfway through and has a great sample keyboard thing.  But overall it’s not worth its supporting elements.

Overall 4.8 :  Over time this album has really stuck with me and grown with my appreciation for the instrumental elements of music.  When I 1st listened to it, I think I might have given it a 3 or under.  But with the years came wisdom, and I realized there’s enough to really like about this thing to ignore the lyrical content, the vocals aside from Fraser, and just enjoy all the really amazing layers it contains.  At it’s overall tempo you’re probably not going to be in the mood to listen to it all the time…I’m not….but when I am it just represents an amazing musical reward.

40 (45 Posts)

40 has had training enough in classical theory to know roughly what he's talking about. As for talent, he considers himself a crappy guitar player. He has a BA in Audio & Sound Recording BA, so not only does music creation intrigue him, but also music production. He believes that expression takes all forms, and it has to be remembered that music is an art form and is ultimately about connection, communication, experimentation, creativity, freedom, emotion, and 100’s of other things.


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