Massive Attack Offers Deep 4 Track Fling With ‘Ritual Spirit’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

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massiveattack2Pushing through the weighty 4-track Ritual Spirit reminds us why Massive Attack were for the majority of their career innovators in trip-hop. The profoundly pushed the ways they concoct their sound through the years by whatever influences of the time; whether they be the Wild Bunch, the emergence of the underground electronic scene in the mid-90s or strictly not using samples in their work. They’ve never quite stood in one spot for long or satisfied themselves with what they produce. Massive Attack is essentially only made up of two remaining members: Del Naja and Daddy G, along with other collaborators such the once just as pioneering Tricky of whom they haven’t work with since 1994’s Protection. The group created what is essentially the “Bristol Sound” with several other UK acts.

Ritual Spirit decidedly mixes their late 90s work like Mezzanine with remnants of their last big collaboration with renowned producer Burial on the “Four Walls / Paradise Circuis” single way back in 2011. It is evident that their work with Burial has shaped the way some of these tracks move in the background and feel livelier despite their sinister quality, elements of UK garage splash about.

Never shying away from bringing in artists to feature, “Dead Editors” is brought to the forefront by London’s legendary hip-hop artist Rodney Hylon Smith, better known as Roots Manuva. Just releasing his latest album last year that was his strongest in years, he swerves between each verse with an almost ritualistic demeanor. The feeling of twisting electronic dub tempos is akin toward the Burial collaboration years ago for Massive Attack. Vocally Roots Manuva’s voice is a perfect match with the low baritone production that is being put out. Its tribal minimalistic modern electronic current juxtaposes wonderfully toward Manuva’s lyrical content and angelic choir backups “what will it take to get back to the blackness / up there, out there.” Ritual Spirit indeed uses this framework from the outset – creating a moody groundswell of featured artists and menacing yet simplistic club vibe that was done so wonderfully upon Mezzanine’s deeper, introspective segues that were more the creation of their production ability than the individuals involved.

This interesting mix of hip-hop stalwarts like skyrocketing Scottish act Young Fathers on “Voodoo Blood” and Roots Manuva upon “Dead Editors” are on the surface clear-cut , but their added additions behind the scenes are what makes it so damn addictive. For instance, “Voodoo Blood” remains the same template of backing hum chorus, which is right in Young Father’s territory, but the introduction of a bass line that sounds out of left field. This year marks five years since a proper release from Massive Attack but Ritual Spirit is a deep 4-track fling with UK garage and trip-hop tendency.

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