Review Summary: Atlas Air EP is decent enough, that is if you can forgive what little care Massive Attack put into it...
dropped in early 2010, the clamoring that had perpetuated for seven years seemed to stop, and Massive Attack fans had something to revel in. After all, the legendary trip-hop act had been absent for the majority of the last decade, leaving fans thirsty for material of any form. Luckily, Massive Attack have returned, with their ambitions set on releasing a series of EP’s rather than a follow up album. While this might not be the news most would like to hear, any new material by the trip-hop kings is great material, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with Atlas Air EP
To put it rather bluntly, the first post-Heligoland
material is an unmitigated disappointment, as it is clear that Massive Attack put little to no effort into the production. Quite literally, the EP feels thrown together, featuring only a morsel of “pseudo-new” material, and two mere remixes of old material. The apt title of “pseudo-new” material describes the track “Red Light,” a leftover from Heligoland
. The EP was originally planned to feature the track, but instead, they opted to merely remix it. While it is a wholly new song, it feels rather cheap, as it really isn’t the true
track, but rather, another person's remix of an unreleased Massive Attack song. The song originally featured the vocal workings of Guy Garvey, but instead were opted out for female vocals. It isn’t a terribly bad track however, as the female vocals add a very airy and creepy touch to an already very airy and creepy atmosphere. It’s got a great pulse, with the song maintaining interest throughout, even when it slows down a bit towards the end, allowing for a nice, subdued keyboard to close things out.
It’s safe to say that “Red Light” is a highlight of the EP, especially considering it is the closest thing to new material here, and really, it is a rather great song. Unfortunately, the rest of the incredibly brief EP is a complete misfire. Audaciously, the remaining two tracks are remixes of the same exact song , “Atlas Air.” Yes it’s neat to see two different takes on the same track, but they collectively make up the majority of the EP. This is ultimately what makes Atlas Air EP
so damn frustrating. What is here is pretty good, but the whole affair just seems so half-assed and poorly thought out, that it feels like Massive Attack didn’t care how this EP turned out. It is a shame really, because both renditions are fairly interesting, and both tracks are very much different from one another. Featuring two very different moods and atmospheres, both “Jneiro Jarel‘s Lavender Remix” and “Goldworthy‘s Remix,” are two very competent and well done takes on what was already a great song to begin with.
Sadly though, as a whole, Atlas Air EP
completely fails as an extended play. It doesn’t bridge the gap between releases by giving a taste of what’s to come, nor does it offer a wealth of unreleased material or B-sides from previous records. Instead, we are treated with remixes from the perspectives of others, and while they are decent in their own right, the end product doesn’t feel like Massive Attack. Although ardent fans may find the novelty in this, those with fleeting interest in the group might see Atlas Air EP
as a gimmicky and impersonal effort.