In the span of five years, most bands burn out and end. Massive Attack, however, chose to spend the years 1998-2003 sporadically working on their new offering "100th Window". Now reduced to a one man band, Massive Attack somehow manages to maintain the high level of proficiency which was more than evident on their landmark "Mezzanine" album from 1997. Massive Attack have opted on this new album to further explore the style they created with their last album and add layer upon layer of production to it. This is not an uncommon move in the music industry but I was really hoping they'd be able to come up with something completely new again. Why did this album take five years to release? would be my major complaint about "100th Window".
Massive Attack have spent the time interestingly, to be sure. The arrangements and refinement on "100th Window" are quite impressive. From the opener "Future Proof", the gauntlet is thrown down at those younger bands who sought to steal Massive Attack's thunder during their prolonged absence.
"What Your Soul Sings" features the work of Irish chanteuse Sinead O'Connor and is a stunning example of parallels in song structure coming together to form a stark and spine-chilling composition. Ms O'Connor has been popping up on many releases over the past two years. Could she be testing the waters for a commercial comeback? If she keeps this up, she just may make it.
"Everywhen" is an odd on again off tempo piece which floats along very lazily and very majestically wheras the lead single "Special Cases" is quite cinematic in it's content. This track is a simple masterpiece when it comes to trip hop. The quarter note ride cymbals and subdued 3/4 time make for a fine work of slowburning excellence. The lyrics in this song raise the hairs on the back of my neck whenever I hear it. I cannot praise this song highly enough, it is a true example of Massive Attack firing on all cylinders.
The rest of "100th Window" is all quite dark and very honed in it's sound. I can only hope to someday hear this album live, or perhaps quite loud in a squalid strip club. For all of it's well thought out concepts and shiny production values, I just wonder what this fellow will do for the next album. Massive Attack are at the same point they were at after they released "Protection" in 1995. I cannot suggest strongly enough that they break some new ground on their next album and evolve. The ability to make two albums which are quite similar and yet different just enough to merit interest is a rare accomplishment. Three would be obscenely calculated.