Massive Attack’s Splitting The Atom EP is a preview of the album Heligoland, slated for a February release. The first two tracks present a promising view of a widely collaborative LP, and the second two suggest a wealth of remixing and B-sides that may evolve out of the Heligoland project.
All four of the tracks stay within Massive Attack’s vein of moody down-tempo music and mysterious lyrics with tempests of emotion simmering below the surfaces. The title track is subtle and haunting. It trips along with pulsing organ chords while Horace Andy intones whispered references to the end of days. Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio is immediately recognizable on “Pray for Rain.” It is the most compelling and complex song on the EP. Tom-toms roll while Adebimpe sings, “In deepest hollow of our minds/ A system failure left behind/ And their necks crane as they turn to pray for rain.” Partway through the nearly seven-minute song, the tempo and tone shift up, with harmonies and sounds that evoke Bondie’s “Tide Is High,” before returning to again to the shadows.
“Bulletproof Love” features Guy Garvey from Elbow singing and is remixed for the EP by Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid. This track apparently won’t be on the LP, although Garvey will be appearing on a song called “Flat Of The Blade.” An alternate version of “Psyche” — which will, in fact, be on the LP — closes the EP in a rather forgettable manner, but it detracts little from the value of the disc. The members of Massive Attack are using the EP to continue to explore their old sound with new voices, in much the same way that the idea of splitting the atom is concurrently old and futuristic.