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Heligoland

3.9 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 9, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

2010 album from the Bristol-based Electronic/Trip Hop outfit. Heligoland is their fifth album overall and their first in over seven years. Featuring previous collaborator Horace Andy, and a bevy of vocalists such as Martina Topley-Bird of Tricky fame, Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and The Warm Inventions, Tunde Adebimpe, and Adrian Utley of Portishead on guitar duties. Tim Goldsworthy of UNKLE and DFA fame was roped in for co-production on a few songs as well.
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Digital Booklet: Heligoland
Digital Booklet: Heligoland
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 9, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Virgin
  • ASIN: B002ZPIC1M
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,010 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Massive Attack albums are rarely immediate. Same with Heligoland: at first, the synths at the beginning of "Splitting The Atom" and "Flat Of The Blade" sound off-key and simplistic. I heard the three-note lead in "Paradise Circus" and wondered how on earth that simple sound could sustain a five-minute song.

But when I listened to "Paradise Circus" a few times, my perception started to change. The clattering, echoing drum track combined with the lead to create an eerie atmosphere. Above all, the song has possibly the most intimate vocal performance of any Massive Attack song. Hope Sandoval's voice is scratchy, but the way you can hear every minute shift in her throat, together with the deliberately slow pace of the vocal, gives an impression of a wide-awake, intensely focused late-night rumination. It's a remarkably sexy song, but it also expresses uncomfortable qualms: the lyrics say that "the devil makes us sin," and that's exactly how the song sounds, like someone giving in to temptation, but feeling uneasy about possible divine repercussions.

The entire album is characterized by this subtle feeling, like constantly looking back over one's shoulder. Heligoland sounds softer and more electronic than, say, Mezzanine, without those overdriven guitars. But it also sounds much more swampy and dissonant (maybe "sullen" might be a good word to describe the tone of the drums in "Pray For Rain") than Protection.
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By ChefBum on February 26, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I was looking forward to Massive Attack's latest release, coming a number of years after "1000th Window".

I've always enjoyed Massive Attack's music, right from "Blue Lines" and past "Mezzanine". The mix varies from record to record, with "Blue Lines" being very much hip-hop oriented, whereas "Mezzanine" is very dark and sounds almost like rock in some places. "Protection" is somewhere in between the two. Massive Attack always mixes it up, and sometimes are unclassifiable in terms of genre.

This latest review seems to be another sign of the times. I also have Portishead's latest "Third", and it appears that the two bands have been comparing notes. The latest albums from both reflect a similar aesthetic, with more sparse beats, particularly in the first few tracks of this release. However, I feel a bit manipulated, as though the track order is the band's deliberate way of setting up listeners for a new experience. Only later tracks on this release start to resemble what we have come to expect from this band.

Overall, it only works in parts. The first track, "Pray for Rain" is the best example of this new, sparse aesthetic. It's almost acapella. But as things get better deeper into the disc, it appears that Massive Attack has become more abashedly derivative. "Rush Minute" has EXACTLY the same opening drum line as Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi is Dead", but fails to do anywhere near as much with it as the song progresses. In fact, the entire song seems to be based on that classic drum line. It's not a *bad* song, but haven't you come to expect a bit more originality from these guys?

And in another song, I hear exactly the same simple, three-note dark chromatic minor chord progression that is used as the theme song to "28 Weeks Later".
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Format: Audio CD
I'm still trying to wrap my head around this album. This has somewhat turned into a Curveball or Changeup that, Now that I've figured out it's not what I orginally thought it was, I have time to recollect and wait on it.
Out of 10 songs, there are 6 that I immediately bite on. The other 4 are still up in the air (for me).

1.) The biggest thing I've noticed about Reviewers thus far, is the complete Lack of ANYTHING, Like or Dislike, for the #6 song "Flat On The Blade." For me, there's something very Awe-Inspiring and Powerful in the latter-half of the song once the Brass and Strings kick in along with the combination of the lyrics with Guy Garvey's voice. I think the lyrics here are the strongest of the Entire album, and at least for me, EPITOMIZE what Massive Attack means to me. Very straight-forward lyrics (that aren't that straight-forward once you really think about it) with very Confident (almost Cocky) delivery.
"I'm not good in a crowd - I've got Skills I can't speak of - Things I've seen will Chase me to the Grave - How does it feel? The weight of the Steel? The Flat of the Blade? How does it feel to Kneel in Defeat to the choices you've made?- Take it they give it, and Rivet for Rivet, I will Build for my Family a Bulletprooof Love."
I guess call me crazy, but those aren't lyrics that I can just TOSS to the side and be like "Ehh, dull, next song." Anybody who does that, is FAR more simplistic and simple-minded than they give themselves credit for. I've been thinking about these lyrics alone for 3 DAYS now.
I think the reason I like this song so much is because it feels VERY reminiscent of Radiohead's "Pyramid Song.
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