Friday, 20 January 2012

Massive Attack - Heligoland

Article first published as Music Review: Massive Attack - Heligoland on Blogcritics.
Massive Attack are widely referred to as the founders of the early '90s U.K. wave of music known as Trip-Hop. They seem to fuse together different aspects of several genres of music, including House, Electronic, Dance, Hip-Hop and even Progressive and Experimental Rock. The truly unique aspect of Massive Attack is that they are able to gel all these aspects into a fusion in which these become one without the loss of any listening pleasure due to extreme experimentation.
The efforts of Heligoland are shared between the duo who make up Massive Attack and six other artists who are featured throughout the album. And whilst so many contributing artists can often lead to several challenges, Heligoland never seems to stray too far from the original tone and at the same time doesn't become repetitive.
Heligoland lends itself to the eerier side of music which comes across especially in songs like "Rush Minute," "Atlas Air" and "Paradise Circus," which featured in the soundtracks of the TV series Misfits, Luther, True Blood and Gossip Girl. The album also relies on the heavy presence of a main melody specifically in "Psyche," in which a sampled picked guitar sound is heard throughout the entire song. However, several changes are made to the melody throughout the song, ranging from volume change to an increase of a reverb effect which results in different atmospheres being introduced throughout the song without changing the notes played. This is a very creative and yet simple production element which allows the music to create a climax or even suspense without relying on lyrics or other instruments.
As with most electronic music, the bass and drum sounds are very important and act as the foundation of the song. Heligoland is no exception to the rule, even in the track "Paradise Circus," where these aspects are very simple. But it's the simplicity of the bass and drum sounds that makes the song so noticeably unique. The effect of the music, topped with vocals done by Hope Sandoval make this song haunting and is possibly the most memorable track on the album.
Where this style of music could easily turn to a self-indulgent tangent of the artists, it is still captivating and enjoyable throughout. I'd advise listening to this album not expecting a fusion of multiple genres and especially not expecting one genre to dominate because this album simply cannot be classified as any genre other than Trip-Hop and that is what I feel makes this album so unique.
This album has introduced creativity and complete originality into a music industry where both are lacking. And saying that I would highly recommend giving Heligoland a listen.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Happy New Year

I am back! And I hope I've come back in time to stop Plug in Your Head from drifting out into the huge sea of blogs.I have just come back from a holiday to England and now that the new year is in full swing, Plug in Your Head will be too.

I went to England believing that I could see a major band every weekend and an indie band everyday. And with this hope I had put some money aside for my brief stay in London where I expected to see my hero's in action. I was disappointed however, as I apparently came at the wrong time of year and that my hero's were back home, celebrating Christmas. After searching the internet, luckily I was able to find a band who I was quite keen too see.

On the 18th of December me, my friend Josh and roughly 100 other people all packed into the small and sweaty Scala Theater in London to see Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Hawthorn Hights. I have never been a big fan of either band and so I went in expecting very little and that is precisely what Hawthorn Hights and the opening band (Who I cannot remember the name of) gave me. However when RJA took the stage the entire room went crazy! The entire dance floor became a mosh pit and I became entranced by the Pop-Metal band. It was undoubtedly, the best live performance I have ever seen and I took the tube home, sweaty, in pain and smiling my head off.

Once back in Salford where I was staying, me and my hosts debated music and music journalism until the early hours of the morning. These debates rekindled my passion for writing and thus started reading every music publication I could find. They were all shit. I was gutted as the publications I had hoped to someday work for gave uninteresting reviews and boring segments. This really made me sad as I then thought that my future career in Music Journalism was a wasted effort.
However when I returned home, I found that Rolling Stone South Africa had finally been launched and thus my aspirations are back on track. I hope I can write for Rolling Stone one day and pursue my Journalistic Career.

In the meantime however, Plug in Your Head will return every week and I hope you all will support me in the year ahead.

Happy New Year.

Xtian Zzyzx
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