Massive Attack, an English trip hop group, is one of the most influential groups of their generation known for their hypnotic sound. Formed back in 1988, the group consists of Grant “Daddy G” Marshall and Robert “3D” Del Naja along with Andy “Mushroom” Vowles, their former member. They were one of their generation’s most innovative groups displaying a fusion of sensual, dark and cinematic sounds.
Their music style is notable for its intensely distinctive and moody dynamics, especially their songs without choruses. Although they were formed in 1988, the group’s history dates back earlier to 1983 with the Wild Bunch. They were one of the most successful sound systems and DJ collections in the early U.K. music scene. Two of its members, “Mushroom” and “Daddy G” teamed with 3D, a local graffiti artist forming Massive Attack, after the group folded.
They also collaborated with Nellee Hopper, an alum of Wild Bunch. The group releases their first single Daydreaming in 1990 featuring the vocals of singer Shara Nelson with raps by Tricky, one of their Wild Bunch collaborators. Following their first single are more music Unfinished Sympathy and Safe from Harm that is now considered classic. It was 1991 when Massive Attack finally releases their debut LP Blue Lines.
The album was a massive commercial success met with major critical praise and labeled an instant classic. Soon after, Nelson who was in many of the memorable tracks of Massive Attack’s albums exited to focus on his solo career. It was also around that time when the group changed their name to simply “Massive” due to the U.N.’s policy regarding Iraq. Three years after with the group’s name properly reinstated, they resurfaced with another album Protection.
Just like before, they worked together with Tricky, Hooper and now with vocalist Nicolette and Tracery Thorn of Everything But the Girl. Mad Professor also remixed the entirety of three singles from their LP – Sly, Karmacoma and the title track Protection, then rereleased as No Protection. For the following years, most of the group’s work is into creating remixes for other artists such as Garbage, Madonna, and Marvin Gaye.
In the summer of 1997, they issued their EP Risingson promotion for their appearance at Glastonbury music festival. In 1998, they released their third full-length album Mezzanine in collaboration with Horace Andy, Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau and Sara Jay. It was a massive success with the group touring all over America and Europe to promote it.
Sadly, Vowles left the group then because of a disagreement with Mezzanine’s artistic direction. Their fans were able to listen to their music again after waiting 5 years when they released 100th Window, their fourth album. The album includes collaborations with their support Horace Andy and Sinéad O’Connor. Massive Attack released Danny the Dog in 2004.
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This marked the group’s entry in working with film scores. From then on, the group worked on scoring several films including In Prison My Whole Life, Trouble the Water, and Battle in Seattle. Their work in film scores earned their Oscar nomination but the credit was not to Massive Attack but their real names. The group released their fifth album Heligoland in 2010.
In 2011, Burial remixed their unreleased songs as well as their latest album’s Paradise Circus for a limited release. Massive Attack returned to the music scene in 2016 when they released their EP, Ritual Spirit. It was a four-track album where they worked together with several collaborators including Tricky, Del Naja, Roots Manuva, Young Fathers, and Euan Dickinson, which they worked together with Heligoland.