Music, 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.
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A beautiful but gritty fantasy
Massive Attack returns in this week’s Bookish Beats with their phenomenal album Mezzanine. This modern masterpiece is, without a doubt, one of my favourite albums of all time and after a countless number listens has become one of my go-to albums whilst reading. If you’re looking for a soundtrack to a beautiful gritty fantasy, whether its urban or epic or something in between, then you can’t go far wrong with Mezzanine. This album really is a beauty.
Mezzanine is a throbbing, beautifully strange and artistic album which brought a surge of electronica to Massive Attack’s trip hop sound. Released in 1998 to wide critical acclaim, Mezzanine became Massive Attack’s most commercially successful album and, almost twenty years later, it’s not hard to see why. This is an atmospheric and addictive musical masterpiece whose lazy, rolling and electronica suffused beats, and surfeit of wonderful vocalists, have you reaching for the repeat button time after time.
Mezzanine opens with Angel, an almost hypnotic track whose slow beat and drawn out vocals take you to another world entirely. Featuring the reggae singer Horace Andy, whose vocals also appear in every one of Massive Attack’s other albums (his contribution to Heligoland on the track Girl I Love You is one of my all time favourites), this is one artist who doesn’t fail to make his presence felt with this pulsating, rhythmic and incredibly haunting track. Man Next Door, a track which features Andy’s reverberating and beat led vocals, becomes increasingly addictive as it reaches its pitch and is one of my favourite tracks on this entire album.
But there is another outstanding vocal contributor to Mezzanine who is more than worthy of a mention. Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, whose wonderful vocals also feature on The Lord of the Rings soundtrack on both Lothlorien and Isengard Unleashed, is a singer whose haunting and eerily addictive vocals contribute to some of the most stunning tracks on this album. Teardrop is arguably the most well known track on Mezzanine and for good reason; an emotive and incredibly beautiful piece, this is a track which ensnares you in Fraser’s vocals and refuses to let you go. But her genius doesn’t end there. Black Milk, another highlight from this album of highlights, and Group Four, one of my favourite tracks, both carry you above a steady underlying beat on a tide of Fraser’s haunting and brilliant vocals; vocals which truly make for a unique album.
Mezzanine is a phenomenal album which deserves its well recognised status. Horace Andy and Elizabeth Fraser make a stunning contribution and, for those of you who have yet to sample the Cocteau Twins or Andy’s other work, I urge you to check them out. Massive Attack never fail to impress and with Mezzanine have provided a wonderful backdrop to countless literary delights. This is one album which can’t be missed.
Top track for action
Top track for tension
Top track for emotion