Bookish Beats: Massive Attack – Heligoland

Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion.This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 


Massive Attack

Listen to with:

A thrilling urban fantasy

Such as:

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

This week we’re taking a break from my love of film and game soundtracks to listen to a band which have topped my list of favourites for an inordinately long time. Massive Attack have repeatedly produced incredible album after incredible album, and their perfect fusion of wildly differing beats and melodies have made them industry leaders in the rise of trip hop.

Heligoland, released in 2010, is Massive Attack’s fifth studio album and, with its seriously chilled out, downbeat vibes and lazy electro undertones, is the perfect backdrop to reading – and to urban fantasy in particular. This is an album which is soulful and atmospheric, and only gets better with each successive listen.

The opening track Pray For Rain, with its gentle vocals and rolling, lazy beat, sets the tone for the rest of the album, and fans of the brilliant crime drama Luther will instantly recognise its theme tune in the deceptively haunting Paradise Circus. Heligoland, which with Girl I Love You has produced one of my favourite Massive Attack tracks of all time, is a triumph of downbeat, rhythmic tracks which only become more addictive the more they are listened to.

This is an album of halves, an album which celebrates the fusion of different sounds and tones for maximum effect, and an album which makes one brilliant and mesmerising whole. Babel, a long-time favourite, succeeds in combining a fast-paced and tuneful melody with an understated and relaxed vibe made apparent throughout the entire album. Splitting the Atom contrasts a deep male vocal with an insistent, repeating melody which has a similar effect to Rush Minute, a track which combines a fast paced backing track with a soft and creeping vocal.

If you’re looking for an album which instantly gives off a city vibe and provides an effortless backdrop to any urban fantasy, then give Heligoland a listen. I can’t imagine reading Rivers of London without it.

Favourite track

04 – Girl I Love You

Top track for action

02 – Babel

Top track for tension

01 – Pray For Rain

Top track for emotion

08 – Rush Minute



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3 thoughts on “Bookish Beats: Massive Attack – Heligoland

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