MASSIVE ATTACK was an absolute game changer for me.
maybe it was because of the household i grew up in or the decades-old myopic vestiges of the "DISCO SUCKS" mentality from a generation before, but for whatever reason ELECTRONIC MUSIC was not really a part of my upbringing and nobody i was around listened to it or took it seriously. in fact, for something to be electronic-based was effectively code for inauthenticity and lack of musicianship (unlike say string, percussion or woodwind instruments) and therefore utterly discardable. which of course is all complete utter bullshit.
when i moved to KUWAIT for high school in 2000 i discovered MASSIVE ATTACK and APHEX TWIN, both of which shifted everything. MASSIVE ATTACK was the spearhead collective of BRITISH TRIP HOP scene that was concurrent with BRITPOP movement of the 1990s, though the COOL BRITANNIA that they exemplified was one of an musically ECLECTIC (HIP HOP, REGGAE, HOUSE MUSIC) and racially INTEGRATED community made up mostly of recent immigrants rather than posh, thin-skinned art school wankers (SUEDE, BLUR, ELASTICA) and unintelligible and uncultured northern oiks (OASIS). APHEX TWIN innovated EXPERIMENTAL electronic music and were exemplars of GLITCH (along with SQUAREPUSHER and AUTECHRE) and their sound was sound TRANSGRESSIVE and REVOLUTIONARY that people are still catching up almost three decades later.
what caught my ear about MASSIVE ATTACK was the sheer EMOTIVE potential of their sound. it all felt DRAMATIC and entirely CINEMATIC, like this was widescreen color cinemascope in a theater and before i was only used to a household black-and-white television. their was a DEPTH and GROOVE and sense of WONDER and ADVENTURE. its difficult to describe but discovering their music was a REVELATION and taught me to really expand my musical palette in search of new EXPANSIVE sonic landscapes, which is essentially what i did the next year when i moved to SACRAMENTO for my final year of high school and effectively got into SHOEGAZE (SLOWDIVE, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN, LUSH, SWIRLIES), NO WAVE (SWANS, SUICIDE, GLENN BRANCA), INDUSTRIAL MUSIC (SKINNY PUPPY, MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT, GODFLESH, THROBBING GRISTLE, MINISTRY, FRONT 242, KMFDM),POST PUNK (BAUHAUS, THE CURE, PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, JOY DIVISION, COCTEAU TWINS), 90s HIP HOP (WU-TANG CLAN, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, THE PHARCYDE, DE LA SOUL, SOULS OF MISCHIEF) and KRAUTROCK (KRAFTWERK, NEU!, CAN, BRIAN ENO, TANGERINE DREAM). more so than that, through MASSIVE ATTACK and APHEX TWIN i really jumped into the deep end of electronic music with AMBIENT acts like ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER, TELEFON TEL AVIV and BOARDS OF CANADA, as well as other more ACCESSIBLE groups like AIR, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, DAFT PUNK and THE FLYING LOTUS.
MASSIVE ATTACK and APHEX TWIN were the gateway band to a whole separate wing of my listening experience life. and for that change in trajectory i am eternally grateful.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode from late 2021 on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC dedicated to BRITISH TRIP HOP icons MASSIVE ATTACK. enjoy!
join us TONIGHT at 8PM EST for an all new episode of DEER GOD RADIO on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC with a playlist celebrating the infectious and entrancing experimental sounds of BRITISH TRIP HOP icons MASSIVE ATTACK!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already, make sure and download the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
photo & text by nacrowe
i first heard BLUE LINES (WILD BUNCH/VIRGIN, 1991) by MASSIVE ATTACK my senior year of high school during my stay in SACRAMENTO post 9/11. i moved from KUWAIT to live with a relative shortly after the attacks. it was abrupt and highly disruptive but i got through it. luckily my relative lived near a local family-owned record store chain called DIMPLE RECORDS (who sadly went out of business in 2019). KUWAIT as a teenager was not much fun. it was a cultural oppressive and intellectually stunting experience. being a student in that environment was awful.
SACRAMENTO in comparison was just an uninformed suburban backwater. unlike KUWAIT, i never felt physically threatened. at school i was more a curiosity than anything else, so i just did my own thing exploring music, film and literature. i got really into POST-PUNK around that time (WIRE, THE CURE, JOY DIVISION, THE FALL, BAUHAUS) and then i discovered TRIP HOP. specifically MASSIVE ATTACK, PORTISHEAD and TRICKY.
it was serendipitous because within a few months i saw TOOL play SACRAMENTO's ARCO ARENA and TRICKY was the opener.
what drew me to MASSIVE ATTACK was their ability to create soundscapes through collage and really play with meter. the music would flow and bend time like REGGAE and then fluidly introduce breakbeats and angelic vocals. it was all unexpected ear candy. i was smitten immediately. subsequent albums have further incorporated an ever-widening breadth of styles and interesting collaborators as well as moods, from the anthemic and jubilant to somber and outright claustrophobic. they somehow sound eclectic without losing any sense of a cohesive identity. they remain one of my favorite groups of any genre.
every subsequent MASSIVE ATTACK record has been a revelation and an innovation from its predecessors. discovering their music really got me through that final year of high school intact. it really encouraged me to keep digging and staying awake and receptive to new sounds and ideas.
in the most unlikely of places: SACRAMENTO. who knew?
join us TONIGHT at 8PM EST for an all new episode of DEER GOD RADIO on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC with a playlist that explores the sonic experimentalist of the singular TRIP HOP icon TRICKY.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
photo manipulation by nacrowe
NULLE PART AILLEURS, translated in english as NOWHERE ELSE, was a talk show on FRENCH channel CANAL+ from roughly 1987 to 2001. as part of the program at times there would be musical guests and the footage that has leaked onto the internet from english-speaking bands over the years is quite remarkable.
impassioned, well-mixed performances by the likes of PORTISHEAD, NIRVANA, OASIS, AT THE DRIVE-IN, MASSIVE ATTACK, DEFTONES, A PERFECT CIRCLE, GARBAGE, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS and countless others can be view below. enjoy.
roughly a year ago we did a show focused on TRIP HOP, which personally is one of my favorite things ever. its rooted in several groups that came out of BRISTOL in the UK who took american HIP HOP BOOM-BAP rhythms and infused it with the sounds, textures and production of the local immigrant community, which included artists everywhere from the CARIBBEAN and WEST AFRICA to the INDIAN subcontinent and beyond.
i discovered groups like MASSIVE ATTACK and PORTISHEAD (as well as DEVO) at the same time when i was in my junior year of high school and they decidedly expanded my perspective on music. at that point my sonic palette was limited to primarily guitar-based stuff, but afterwards really all bets were off. the fact that TRIP HOP had groove yet had this melancholic, forlorn vibe was the perfect soundtrack to being a disaffected teenager running around the morally bankrupt wasteland that was and still is KUWAIT.
listening to these bands, no matter my age, brings me straight back there. i'm happy i found it though at that time, its funny how music has that power to get us through challenging times while we are still in them.
i don't know how much explaining we did during this show since we had a guest that we spoke to off-mic but honestly this is one of the stronger playlists in the history of the show. so by all means enjoy it. let it transport you.
artwork by nicholas crowe
tune into DEER GOD RADIO tonight at 8PM on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC where we will be playing TRIP HOP from the early 90s til the present. definitely one of our favorite genres taht has been criminally underappreciated and underrepresented in recent years.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.