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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brand not Band

posted by on June 12 at 13:00 PM


The core of this article is music to my ears:

…Massive Attack operated as a loosely defined production base, using various collaborators to help them complete their ideas. As the three founding members recalled around the time of their second album Protection (1994), they might get the recording engineer to fine-tune a synth sound by telling him: “Like, a bit more phwaah, please.”

Del Naja, now 43 and the group’s principal presence, also surprised fans by referring to Massive Attack at the time of the last album, 100th Window (2003), not as a band, but as a brand. By then, he was the only working member, Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles having left shortly after Mezzanine (1998) and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall, 48, taking extended paternity leave.

But while Massive Attack’s portfolio may be slim and the exact contributions of the group-members difficult to pinpoint, their work remains impressive, with two all-time classic albums in Blue Lines (1991) and Protection and a visual identity that has always looked the part…

Yet, if Massive Attack once lacked muso-credibility, who now cares? In a world of “virtual” bands such as Gorillaz, co-founded by Del Naja’s friend Damon Albarn, Massive’s moody mix of music and visuals fits in as perfectly postmodern… [I]t’s perhaps useful to regard Massive Attack as curators first and creators second. This, of course, makes their new role particularly appropriate. With Meltdown, they get the chance to curate on a scale previously undreamed of. Their wide-ranging programme (they’re the festival’s 15th incumbents) also hangs together unusually well.

Not curators first and creators second, but curators from first to last. The main members of Massive Attack are not musicians but selectors. And we can not (must not) see selectors as the same as musicians. Bands can stage a performance, brands can do nothing of the sort. So far apart are the two that a whole new way of thinking and critiquing selectors has to completely break with the way we think about and critique musicians.

Let’s close these quick thoughts with one of the oddest videos ever made:

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in my opinion, you can't not list 'mezzanine' as one of massive attack's all-time classic albums. otherwise a very cool article and insightful in their input to their albums or lack thereof. essentially it doesn't matter when the finished product is as good as the bulk of their work.

ps. do you find 3d menacing shara nelson in both this video (walking about a half block away for about a fourth of the video) and the one for 'safe from harm' (chasing her up an endless stairwell) rather strange? can you generate a subtext for what this means?

Posted by cosby | June 12, 2008 2:17 PM

cosby, you have the eyes of a hawk. i will try to see what you saw.

Posted by charles mudede | June 12, 2008 3:10 PM

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