100th Window

100th Window

5.0 2
by Massive Attack
     
 

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Turn it up. If you don't, you'll likely miss the nearly subsonic drama beneath the disarmingly airy soundscapes conjured by Bristol, England's, Massive Attack on their fourth album. These influential innovators -- among the first to fuse dub, nascent house and techno, and hip-hop sampling and layering techniques on their 1991 debut, Blue…  See more details below

Overview

Turn it up. If you don't, you'll likely miss the nearly subsonic drama beneath the disarmingly airy soundscapes conjured by Bristol, England's, Massive Attack on their fourth album. These influential innovators -- among the first to fuse dub, nascent house and techno, and hip-hop sampling and layering techniques on their 1991 debut, Blue Lines -- have made some changes this time around. Original member Robert "3D" Del Naja joins Neil Davidge, who coproduced Massive's last album, Mezzanine, at the group's core, and the pair layer their own instrumentation, such as lumbering dub bass lines and eerie synths, in dark, uneasy arrangements that evoke a bit less angst than previous releases. In another break with the past, you won't hear any samples or any vocals from familiar Massive collaborators such as Tricky, Everything But the Girl's Tracey Thorn, or Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser (Jamaican singer Horace Andy, who's been on every Massive album, remains, weaving his espresso-rich voice into two songs). On 100th Window the special guest is Sinéad O'Connor, whose velvety voice caresses three tracks, notably the sinister soul number "Special Cases" and "A Prayer for England," which can only be heard as a plea for peaceful engagement with Iraq. The remaining tracks are sung by 3D, who -- contrary to his tack with the guest singers -- mixes his own voice down to unsettling effect. On "Butterfly Caught," for example, he swirls his whispered incantations beneath a slithering electronic beat and moaning Arabic-sounding strings, suggesting a distant, almost surreal landscape. As distinct from Massive Attack's previous three albums as they are from one another, 100th Window cuts new ground for one of contemporary music's most crucial risk takers.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
A new album from Massive Attack is an event, even if only one-third of the original group is present for the festivities. Just the group's fourth album in more than a dozen years, 100th Window marked the departure of Mushroom (permanently, after artistic differences) and Daddy G (temporarily, to raise a family), leaving only one founding member, 3D (Robert del Naja), to muddle along with arranger/producer Neil Davidge (who made his Massive Attack debut on 1998's Mezzanine). Though Del Naja is mostly successful giving the people what they want -- a follow-up to Mezzanine, one of the most compulsive listens of '90s electronica -- it unfortunately comes as a sacrifice to the very thing that made Massive Attack so crucial to dance music: their never-ending progression to a radically different sound with each release. For better or worse, 100th Window has the same crushingly oppressive productions, dark, spiralling basslines, and pile-driving beats instantly familiar to fans of Mezzanine. Fortunately, it also has the same depth and point-perfect attention to detail, making for fascinating listening no matter whether the focus is the songs, the effects, or even the percussion lines. Jamaican crooner Horace Andy is back for a pair of tracks ("Everywhen," "Name Taken") that nearly equal his features on the last record, while Sinéad O'Connor makes her debut with three vocal features. Unlike Liz Fraser or Tracey Thorn (two Massive Attack muses from the past), O'Connor's voice lacks resonance and doesn't reward the close inspection that a Massive Attack production demands. Still, her songwriting is far superior and the slight quaver in her voice adds a much-needed personality to these songs. "A Prayer for England" is a political protest that aligns itself perfectly with the group that coined its name as a satirical nod to military aggression. Another feature for O'Connor, "What Your Soul Sings," is the only song here that compares to the best Massive Attack has to offer, beginning with a harsh, claustrophobic atmosphere, but soon blossoming like a flower into a beautiful song led by her tremulous voice. In comparison, the four songs for 3D are average at best, mere recyclings of the same ideas heard years earlier. That's satisfaction enough for those who kept Mezzanine near their stereo for years on end, but a disappointment to those expecting another masterpiece.
Rolling Stone - Arion Berger
The most accessible, freaky, futuristic electronic head-food album on the market.
Spin Magazine - Will Hermes
100th Window is a masterpiece of haunted sonics. (7)

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/11/2003
Label:
Virgin Records Us
UPC:
0724358123920
catalogNumber:
81239
Rank:
53497

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Massive Attack   Primary Artist
Horace Andy   Vocals
Angelo Bruschini   Guitar
Stuart Gordon   Violin
Skaila Kanga   Harp
Sinéad O'Connor   Vocals
Craig Pruess   Conductor
Gavyn Wright   Leader
Robert "3D" del Naja   Vocals
Alex Swift   Keyboards
Damon Reece   Drums
Jon Harris   Bass
Skalia Kanga   Harp

Technical Credits

Isobel Griffiths   Contributor
Sinéad O'Connor   Composer
Craig Pruess   String Arrangements
Mike Ross   Engineer
Neil Davidge   Composer,Producer,String Arrangements
Robert "3D" del Naja   Composer,Producer,String Arrangements,Art Direction
Alex Swift   Programming
Tom Hingston   Art Direction
Marc Picken   Management
Tim Young   Mastering

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100th Window 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album really didn't get the attention it deserved, as to me this record is right up there with their previous albums Protection and Mezzanine as a truly great album. The record drifts a little towards the end, fading away into instrumentals, but the vocal tracks are so astonishingly good that works as post euphoria bliss out. Sinead O'Connor would not have been my choice, in fact I was thinking of avoiding the album for her alone. That would have been a big mistake as both her and 3-d deliver some great songs. I've been listening to this record for six months now and it's still at the top of the list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago