Massive Attack Strike Again
U.K. "project" loses members,
"There was very
little compatibility," Massive Attack's Robert "3D" del Naja says,
explaining why he is sitting alone in the Bristol, England, studio
to talk about Massive's new album, 100th Window. For previous
releases -- 1991's Blue Lines, 1994's Protection and
1998's Mezzanine -- Massive Attack were a trio that also
included Grant "Daddy G" Marshall and Andrew "Mushroom" Vowles.
But Vowles decamped to focus on his own work after completing the
touring for Mezzanine, and Marshall left in December 2001
to spend time with his family. "I like to romantically think of
a time where we were all in one room saying, 'This is the future.'
But there was never a time like that. There was always a problem
. . . a never-ending struggle."
Del Naja is enjoying the
creative freedom that has come along with the group's reorganization.
"We weren't in the same place," he says. "If you attach yourself
to a project too much, it becomes a vanity issue. Every band who've
sold themselves via their physical selves, end up being self-destructive.
The idea of image changes, how people see image and how relevant
it is at a certain time. If it's about the people, it's not as important
as the music."
He worked on Window
with Mezzanine's co-producer Neil Davidge, and created a
more adventurous piece of work than anything Massive Attack had
done previously: The mysterious wandering sweeps and eerie Middle
Eastern strings venture into much darker territory than ever before,
a place full of bone-chilling angst and sexual tension.
Del Naja's also taken
Massive Attack into increasingly political venues: In conjunction
with Blur's Damon Albarn, he took two ads out in the New Musical
Express stating "No War in Iraq." "I try and stay involved,"
del Naja says, "without ramming it down people's throats . . . without
making it too confrontational. People can take it if they want it,
and not if they choose not to."
Still, at no point did
del Naja think of 100th Window as a solo project, nor did
it occur to him to call it anything else but a Massive Attack album.
"Massive Attack was meant to be ambiguous," he says. "It was a project,
and it was never meant to be a band. It wasn't important how it
was made or who was working. The whole point was it would evolve
Del Naja's also already
has most of the next Massive Attack album in place; it will feature
guest appearances from Tom Waits ("even though he thinks my name
is Richard"), Mos Def (with whom he worked on the Blade II
soundtrack on "I Against I") and Dot Allison, who is slated to support
Massive Attack on the upcoming American tour for 100th Window.
(February 10, 2003)