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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2003 | Circa

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Électronique - Released January 1, 2002 | Circa

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Électronique - Released January 1, 1999 | Circa

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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1998 | Circa

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection du Mercury Prize
Increasingly ignored amidst the exploding trip-hop scene, Massive Attack finally returned in 1998 with Mezzanine, a record immediately announcing not only that the group was back, but that they'd recorded a set of songs just as singular and revelatory as on their debut, almost a decade back. It all begins with a stunning one-two-three-four punch: "Angel," "Risingson," "Teardrop," and "Inertia Creeps." Augmenting their samples and keyboards with a studio band, Massive Attack open with "Angel," a stark production featuring pointed beats and a distorted bassline that frames the vocal (by group regular Horace Andy) and a two-minute flame-out with raging guitars. "Risingson" is a dense, dark feature for Massive Attack themselves (on production as well as vocals), with a kitchen sink's worth of dubby effects and reverb. "Teardrop" introduces another genius collaboration -- with Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins -- from a production unit with a knack for recruiting gifted performers. The blend of earthy with ethereal shouldn't work at all, but Massive Attack pull it off in fine fashion. "Inertia Creeps" could well be the highlight, another feature for just the core threesome. With eerie atmospherics, fuzz-tone guitars, and a wealth of effects, the song could well be the best production from the best team of producers the electronic world had ever seen. Obviously, the rest of the album can't compete, but there's certainly no sign of the side-two slump heard on Protection, as both Andy and Fraser return for excellent, mid-tempo tracks ("Man Next Door" and "Black Milk," respectively). © John Bush /TiVo
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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1998 | Circa

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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1998 | Circa

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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1998 | Circa

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Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | Circa

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 1998 | Circa

Carleen Anderson takes a departure from her signature sound with a direction toward more of an earthier feel to her music. The end result is rather boring. Carleen possesses an affective voice full of deep emotion and talent, but wastes most of her physical talent on material that has little cohesive direction. Carleen's time may come again, but certainly not with this effort. "Woman in Me," though reminds the listener of what potential she is quite capable of delivering. Elsewhere, the songs sound rather incomplete and confusing. © Jaime Ikeda . . /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | Circa

Fluke's fourth album altogether finds remixed tracks from 1995's OTO alongside a few new titles. The polished techno-funk of previous records, which sometimes grew a bit tired, is nicely expanded on with big beat numbers like the video-game soundtrack "Atom Bomb," plus moderate breakbeats on several tracks, and "Goodnight Lover," which drifts into soundtrack ambience. © John Bush /TiVo
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Man

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 1996 | Circa

Neneh Cherry, the critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and "rapstress" who burst onto the scene in 1989 with the mega-hit "Buffalo Stance," did not even see the release of her third album, Man, in the United States. This set differs from her previous efforts in that there is absolutely no rap to be found anywhere on the disc, and all of the songs are slow-burning, midtempo alt-rock numbers, as opposed to anything remotely resembling dance or rap (though there are some hip-hop styled beats). There are really no immediate hits on this album, although it includes the international chart-topping duet with Youssou N'Dour, "7 Seconds," as well as several other highlights, including "Woman," "Hornbeam," and "Everything." Also included here is a tribute cover she recorded of Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man." The album is a high-quality collection of alt-rock womens' anthems, at times bluesy, at times folksy, and much more akin to her previous rock-leaning effort Homebrew than her breakthrough Raw Like Sushi. The songs have an organic, earthy feel, in tune with the Lilith Fair alternative-style musical movement going on at the time. A good deal of alterna-sexual references are found, especially considering some of the song titles (first single "Kootchi" and "Beastiality," to mention two). A solid album, but definitely not very commercial. Still, it should have been given a chance in the U.S. market, especially given her previous track record. © Jose F. Promis /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 1996 | Circa

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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1995 | Circa

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
Protection was widely considered a disappointing follow-up to Massive Attack's groundbreaking debut, Blue Lines. Where their debut bent all of the conventional hip-hop, dub reggae, and soul rules, Protection essentially delivered more of the same. Perhaps that's the reason why Mad Professor's remix of the album, No Protection, was welcomed with open arms by both Massive Attack fans and critics. Mad Professor has returned the group to their experimental, cut-and-paste dub reggae and hip-hop roots. He has gutted the songs -- twisting and reassembling the vocal tracks, giving the songs deeper, fuller grooves and an eerily seductive atmosphere. In other words, he has made Protection into a more daring and fulfilling album with his remixes. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Oto

Dance - Released January 1, 1995 | Circa

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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1995 | Circa

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Trip Hop - Released September 1, 1994 | Circa

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Massive Attack's sophomore effort could never be as stunning as Blue Lines, and a slight drop in production and songwriting quality made the comparisons easy. Still, from the first two songs Protection sounds worthy of their debut. The opening title track is pure excellence, with melancholy keyboards, throbbing acid lines, and fragmented beats perfectly complementing the transcendent vocals of Tracey Thorn (an inspired choice to replace the departed Shara Nelson as their muse). Tricky, another soon-to-be-solo performer, makes his breakout on this record, with blunted performances on "Karmacoma," another highlight, as well as "Eurochild." But even though the production is just as intriguing as on Blue Lines, there's a bit lacking here -- Massive Attack doesn't summon quite the emotional power they did previously. Guest Craig Armstrong's piano work on the aimless tracks "Weather Storm" and "Heat Miser" leans uncomfortably close to Muzak, and his arrangement and conducting for "Sly" isn't much better (vocals by Nicolette save the track somewhat). Though it's still miles ahead of the growing raft of trip-hop making the rounds in the mid-'90s, Protection is rather a disappointment. © John Bush /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1994 | Circa

On Falling Forward, Julia Fordham proves once again that her vocal deftness and range are truly formidable forces. Fordham even supplies the background vocals on all of the songs except "River," creating a polished sound with the help of co-producer Larry Klein. The album has an even-tempered ambience to it, rarely rising above or falling below the fault line which formulates a graceful fluidity throughout the 11 tracks. While the jazzy adult contemporary-type arrangements may lack ingenuity, the versatility and layers of Fordham's angelic voice are more than enough to carry the album. © Erik Crawford /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 1994 | Circa

Carleen Anderson had recorded as a member of the Young Disciples and as a backup singer for artists like Bryan Ferry, Paul Weller, and Guru by the time of her debut True Spirit in 1994. It's a self-assured Anderson, and she possesses a warm, soulful voice. She also reveals herself to be capable of temperature raising, orgasmic moans at the end of the (up to that point) Stevie Wonder-like "Morning Loving." True Spirit succeeds in drawing on older R&B vibes and making them sound fresh. Multi-instrumentalist Ian Green (who also produced) gives Anderson musical backdrops that range from bluesy to funky to sultry. The lyrics are literate and sophisticated, balancing a focus on romantic relationships ("Ain't Givin' Up on You," the title track) and socially conscious concerns ("Mama Said," "Nervous Breakdown"). Anderson's vocals are arresting icing on the cake, particularly haunting on the dramatic ballad "Only One for Me." True Spirit is a gorgeous album that constantly draws in the listener, both musically and spiritually. © Tom Demalon /TiVo
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Sly

Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1994 | Circa

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Électronique - Released January 1, 1993 | Circa

With a delightful, trance-pop record that resulted in chart entries for singles like "Groovy Feeling" and the ironic "Electric Guitar," Fluke's stature does not suffer for their perceived descent from the heights of intelligent electronic dance into the less rarefied air of popular music. There are still plenty of moments for production-oriented bliss on "Spacey (Catch 22 Dub)" and "Eko." © Keith Farley /TiVo