Massive Attack are one of my personal favourites. Their debut album, Blue Lines, is one of, is not my absolute favourite album. Paradise Circus, Protection and Angel make up some of my favourite songs. And alongside my other fave- Portishead, the pair helped cement my hometown of Bristol as one of the world’s pop culture capitals. Following their sultry jazz, funk and hip-hop-infused earlier releases, through their loud rock-driven Mezzanine, we now find ourselves at the brink of their forthcoming sixth studio album. To tide over us patient Massive Attack-ers, the elusive pairing or Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall give us Ritual Spirit EP.
As with much of Massive Attack’s LPs, Ritual Spirit is a project that requires not just your undivided attention and patience, but also a pair of high quality speakers capable of picking up on all the band’s intricate perfections and tweaks. The criss-crossing vocals overlaps on Take It There, the shuddering scattered percussion on Dead Editors, or the vibey layering to Voodoo In My Blood, the project is as layered and intricate as you should come to expect by now.
As touched upon, Massive Attack’s transition of sound is respected and revered the industry over. Blue Lines’ sexy fusion of chilled atmospheres crossed with starchy hip-hop vibes changed the landscape of contemporary production. Mezzanine was as-overwhelmingly received, but would act as a segway to their continued sound from 2003’s 100th Window, up until now. As you may have inferred, I much preferred Massive Attack’s earlier sound, and after two [of their most recent] studio albums across a timespan of over a decade, it was somewhat frustrating to hear a familiar, if not identical vibe on Ritual Spirit.
Ritual Spirit EP covers familiar ground. The sound of Massive Attack remains eerie, harrowing and ghoulish, and has done for well over a decade. While I’m happy that new material has finally been bestowed upon us, I can’t help but feel a bit miffed, although the long-awaited reunion with Tricky certainly a talking point. Maybe I’m just a fan stuck between the jazzy stylings of Blue Lines, and the atmospheric progressive nature of Mezzanine, but unfortunately, Ritual Spirit is nothing I haven’t heard a lot of already.
Verdict – WWV