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Massive Attack

Artist Biography

Real Name: Robert Del Naja, Grant Marshall
Genre: Electronica / Experimental / Hip Hop

Massive Attack are a musical collective from Bristol, UK, widely considered to be progenitors of the genre known as trip hop, as well as effectively being a wider collective including other musicians that they assemble. Originally DJ's Grant Marshall (Daddy G), Andrew Vowles (Mushroom) and painter-turned-MC Robert Del Naja (3D) met as members of The Wild Bunch, one of the first sound system collectives in Britain and a dominant force in the early 1980s Bristolian club scene.

Starting out as a production trio in 1988, with their independently-released song, Any Love, sung by falsetto-voiced singer-songwriter Carlton McCarthy, they later signed to Circa Records in 1990. Circa became a subsidiary of (and was later subsumed by) Virgin Records, which in turn was acquired by EMI.

Some of their most noted songs have been without choruses and have featured dramatically atmospheric dynamics, conveyed through either epic distorted guitar crescendos, lavish orchestral arrangements (like swelling, sustained strings or flourishes of grand piano) or prominent, looped/shifting basslines, often underpinned by high and exacting production values, involving sometimes painstaking digital editing and mixing. The pace of their music has often been slower than prevalent British dance music at the time. These and other psychedelic, soundtrack-like and DJist sonic techniques, formed a much-emulated style journalists began to dub "trip hop" from the mid-nineties onwards, though in an interview in 2006, G said, "'We used to hate that terminology [trip-hop] so bad,' (laughs) 'You know, as far we were concerned, Massive Attack music was unique, so to put it in a box was to pigeonhole it and to say, "Right, we know where you guys are coming from."

Their debut album, Blue Lines (1991), was co-produced by Jonny Dollar and Cameron McVey, who also became their first manager. Massive Attack went on to critical acclaim for their ever-changing line-up of distinctive, often 'ethereal' or whispery guest vocalists, interspersed with Del Naja and Marshall's (initially Tricky's) own,'and other eclectic references, musical and lyrical.

With the coffee-table chill-out of Protection in 1994, a rather heavier, guitar-upgraded Mezzanine in 1998, and then the denser, more clinical soundscaping of Robert Del Naja's essentially solo 100th Window in 2003, Massive's overall sound grew persistently more experimental and melancholy, having a greater degree of gothic post-punk texture and moodily cinematic electronica integrated into it. The band became known for often not being able to easily get along with one another and working increasingly separately. Andrew Vowles, aka Mushroom, reluctantly and acrimoniously left Massive Attack altogether in late 1999, at the behest of his colleagues. Daddy G had also effectively left by 2001, but returned to a studio role with greater commitment in 2005, having joined the touring line-up of 2003/4, though he did produce "Live With Me", with Terry Callier, the one new track from [Disc 1 of] 2006's Collected.

A record label, Melankolic, was started back in 1995 (as an imprint of Virgin Records), but had completely folded by 2003. Over the decades, the Bristol collective have collaborated with Neneh Cherry, Madonna, David Bowie, Mos Def and Sinéad O'Connor amongst many others. Roots reggae veteran, Horace Andy has featured on all of their studio LP's.

Throughout 2009, Massive Attack completed their fifth studio LP Heligoland with production from Neil Davidge (and mixed by Mark 'Spike' Stent).

The Splitting The Atom EP, featuring vocals from Massive Attack, Horace Andy, Tunde Adebimpe, Martina Topley-Bird and Guy Garvey was released on October 5 2009 to buy as a digital download and limited edition vinyl. The new album Heligoland will be released on February 9th 2010.

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