From a whipcord-thin stripper cutting an aloof swath through the urban decay that surrounds her to a sentient fetus calmly regarding the audience through a haze of amniotic fluid, the band
Massive Attack has never shied away from singular imagery. Years before the term "trip-hop" was coined by the British music press, this dance-music collective was crafting postmodern soul music out of dense dub bass lines, hip-hop breakbeats, and disparate vocals. Andrew "Mushroom" Vowles, Grant "Daddy G" Marshall, and Robert "3D" del Naja form the nucleus of the group, but a large number of vocalists and producers have passed through the lineup over the years, from Soul II Soul knob-twiddler Nellee Hooper and reggae crooner Horace Andy to solo breakaways Shara Nelson and Tricky. It's moonlighting pop stars, though, who have often provided the group's roiling soundscapes with lyrical resonance: Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl, Elizabeth Frazer of Cocteau Twins, and even Sinéad O'Connor. It's startling, then, to note the visual consistency of these 11 music videos, in which urban beauty and noir paranoia collide repeatedly in widescreen splendor. Director Baillie Walsh created the template with four clips from 1991's Blue Lines LP, most of which feature Nelson in evocative black-and-white, staring defiantly into the camera as she navigates winding staircases and city streets. Michel Gondry offers up a more playful, colorful take on the same idea with his -esque clip for "Protection," off 1994's album of the same name. On "Sly," Stephane Sednaoui switches things up with trippy Orientalism and color-saturated effects, but even these scenes are interspersed with slow-mo cityscapes and implied menace. By the time Walter Stern steps in for three of the four cuts off 1998's celebrated Rear Window Mezzanine outing, the alternately austere and futuristic visuals have become a signature part of the band's brand identity. Plenty of dance acts have employed visual consistency across constant changes in sound and personnel, but few have done it as hypnotically as Massive Attack.
All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard