Release Date: Jan 28, 2016
Record label: Virgin
If Daddy G of Massive Attack described his band’s previous album Heligoland as a “raw, song-based album”, then the arrival of their EP Ritual Spirit reaches even further back to their roots. A handful of key players are in place this time—Robert “3D” Del Naja, Grant “Daddy G” Marshall, and Tricky, bolstered by the additional help of Roots Manuva, Azekel, Young Fathers, and the production of Euan Dickinson. The average Massive Attack fan, who is accustomed to long waits between releases, will be too overjoyed to complain that Ritual Spirit is only 17 minutes long.
For the longest time, I couldn’t see Massive Attack as a person, or any collection of people. I thrived off the ensnarement, the feeling of blackness encroaching, measured with a surreal clarity. And, really, the group has swirled into one of the shadow-like entities that their music evokes, as members fade out, guest vocalists fade in, and Robert '3D' Del Naja grips the helm.
Massive Attack made not one but three of the defining albums of the '90s, and are nearly single-handedly responsible for founding trip-hop, which, depending on who you ask, is either the most prevalent or worst genre of the decade's latter half. They were probably guaranteed to weather some tough times after the turn of the millennium, and they did. Their once-genre became a punchline, and band members splintered off one by one, leaving only Robert "3D" Del Naja, his increasingly claustrophobic production style, and a cloud of drama.
It seems as if Macklemore anticipated the coming of his second album more than hip-hop fans. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, judging by the title, is an incredibly poignant piece on the artist and the issues his success has caused among various communities. Or, I should say, that’s what Macklemore wanted it to be. The final result is one that aspires to achieve more than it actually does.