Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 019
Wed, Feb 13, 2013
“Black Melt [(“Black Milk” remix) featuring Elizabeth Fraser]”
me in the
Say the word Mezzanine and Massive Attack fans will grin in approval for 1998’s seminal album steeped in sensual sexy beats that are the soundtrack to any encounter in the dark. Massive Attack singer and co-creator Robert “3D” del Naja one described the title of Mezzanine as, “It’s that particular point of the day when the ‘night-before feeling’ turns into the ‘morning-after feeling’ and you’re up and you’re with someone and it’s just you two against the World. That idea reflects me, my kind of lifestyle.”
Massive Attack against the world, that’s been the creative ideology since The Wild Bunch days when del Naja and his partners in crime Andrew “Mushroom” Vowels and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall, as Robert described his band’s philosophy when asked if he could read music or play any conventional instrument, 3D explained, “Not really, no. That’s the beauty of it. Everything I’ve ever done—painting, music, writing—has always been untrained and uneducated. It’s been about finding books yourself, art you like, images you like and parts of the world you fucking like. I don’t think it’s a necessity at all for most bands. But for us, it’s much more about ideas and imagination—that’s why it’s not a conventional structure. Massive Attack was always an idea. No matter what happens in the future, we will continue to make music in one shape or another. And it’ll be driven by the same thing— what’s happening in your head.”
But when Massive Attack wasn’t fighting against the world, del Naja, Mushroom and 3D were usually butting heads creatively with each other as 3D discussed when he said, “On Mezzanine, we had a similar issue in terms of dynamic, because at that point Mushroom had a very different set of opinions about music and we weren’t seeing eye- to-eye. A lot of the time it was me and Mushroom up at Christchurch with Neil Davidge trying to mediate between us. Me and Mush jamming things together that were complete opposites, which is what made Mezzanine interesting, a million battles about what we fundamentally disagreed with each other on. Through a lot of that, G didn’t want to be around. G got involved later on when we had a bit of a blueprint. Cause also, G’s always been kind of an elder statesman. And I say that cause he’s an ageless man, do you know what I mean? He’s always had this attitude of ‘let them fight it out and I’ll come in and tell them what I think afterwards’. That’s the relationship we’ve built up over the years.”
The main contention during the Mezzanine session was the Daddy G’s “Black Milk.” The band convinced “Teardrop” vocalist Cocteau Twins chanteuse Elizabeth Fraser to sing on Daddy G’s creepy yet atmospheric creation. Del Naja described Fraser’s seductive vocals as “This is an excursion in Liz’s own language, which I’m a big fan of. We usually jam and come up with random stuff, which we then re-record. It’s quite exploratory.” Fraser’s vocals weren’t the problem, Daddy G and co-producer Neil Davidge convinced 3D that the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band sample from their song “Tribute,” was unnoticeable. It turns out after a Mann fan discovered the sample in Germany; Massive Attack had to settle out of court with Manfred.
Massive Attack fans wondering why the original 1998 album version of Mezzanine’s “Black Milk” was missing from 2006’s deluxe edition of Collected, have to blame the whole Manfred Mann debacle. Marshall took it upon himself to remake the original “Black Milk”, taking Mezzanine’s ode to cunning linguists into the 21st Century. “Black Melt” morphed into a metallic more hardcore edge that Daddy G himself dubbed “post ironic—I love it more than the original.” Think a heavier Massive Attack with metal overtones with Fraser’s spandex-esque vocals whipping you with dominated delight.
Daddy G once said “Right from the start, we never made music in line with the tempos that were required in clubs. It’s made for after clubs, when you want to chill out, learn how to breathe again.” Mezzanine’s “Black Milk” has new life in her new “Black Melt” skin, breathing again, with darker Massive Attack whispers, more intimate and enticing from than ever before. Turned on? give “Black Melt” a try—you may just enjoy it!