MASSIVE ATTACK - PROTECTION
Bristol's trip-hop pioneers crystallise their melancholic splendour on Protection. It's a simmering shadow of a soundtrack to urban life, where dub, hip-hop, electronica and soul mesh into something quite singular. Imagine the chilling threnody of scene-mates Portishead allied with rough dancehall, club and South Bronx bass-beats, set ablaze by Mushroom, 3-D and Daddy-G's sour gaze into the millennial horizon. A host of fine guest vocalists help drive the vocal tunes, in turn making the instrumentals stand out all the more. It is a juxtaposition of cold and hot, alienation and unity, that informs Protection. Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl steals the show with her sure, silky vocals on the title track, her voice a sweet fire that thrives in a frosty wind, just barely anchored by the entrancing swirl of wah-guitar, strings and phased keyboard drones. Old-school reggae favourite Horace Andy tears up Spying Glass with a haunting lilt over the house-dub beat. Sly evokes the icy landscapes of Bjork's late-'90s work, albeit with the warm gust of string passages. Karmacoma features fellow trip-hopper Tricky, adding further motion to the forward-looking pop vision of Protection.