As we near the release of the much-anticipated fifth studio album from Massive Attack, the Bristol pair have been talking to 6 Music about its all-star cast of players.
Out 8 February, Heligoland features a host of guest vocals from long-time collaborator Horace Andy, Blur frontman Damon Albarn, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Martina Topley-Bird and Tunde Adebimpe.
Other musical contributors include Portishead’s Adrian Utley on guitar and his Beak bandmate, Billy Fuller on bass.
A Blur on board
Heligoland is the first Massive Attack album to feature vocals from Gorillaz mastermind and Blur singer Damon Albarn.
Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja said he was a pleasure to work with: “Every time he applies himself to something you know that the soul and meaning he puts into it will define how great it always is.
“It’s never just a casual dalliance with something, it’s something he believes in, so getting him to concentrate on us for a period of time was really spectacular.”
They were initially set some boundaries, admitted 3D: “Damon had said to us, ‘I’m only going to do this if I don’t get dragged into a Bristol time-warp for two years, I’m only going to work on major chords, no minor chords, and we’re going to work from 10 until 4 in the afternoon’, which didn’t happen obviously.”
Horace Andy's input
Massive Attack collaborated with the reggae singer Horace Andy on record tracks Girl I Love You and Splitting The Atom, and Grant ‘Daddy G’ Marshall told the Music Week on 6 Music he has always worked well out of his comfort zone.
“Songs like Spying Glass, (Hymn of the) Big Wheel and 16 Seater, these are songs that maybe Horace wouldn’t even think about trying to attempt in his own environment in Jamaica,” he said.
“But bringing him to England and working with him, he was really open about what he’s doing.
“He was really open about working with us and he’s got some really amazing ideas.”
The record is titled after a small German archipelago in the North Sea, formerly owned by Denmark and Britain, called Heligoland.
“We’re gonna set up a two day festival there in about three years. That’s the plan anyway,” explained 3D. “I actually encountered it on the movie Shadow of the Vampire.
“Part of the film was shot there and it just says ‘Heligoland’ at one point and I just thought, ‘I love that word’. Initially it’s just really intriguing.”
The new album will be played out in full for the first time anywhere, on 6 Music, a week today (1 February) as an Album Of The Day Plus, and the band will be talking about the record's creation with Steve Lamacq between 1600-1900 GMT the same day.
The album tracklisting is as follows:
1 Pray for Rain (feat. Tunde Adebimpe)
2 Babel (feat.Martina Topley-Bird)
3 Splitting The Atom (feat. Horace Andy)
4 Girl I Love You (feat. Horace Andy)
5 Psyche (feat. Martina Topley-Bird)
6 Flat of the Blade (feat. Guy Garvey)
7 Paradise Circus (feat. Hope Sandoval)
8 Rush Minute
9 Saturday Come Slow (feat. Damon Albarn)
10 Atlas Air
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