Heligoland: Splitting the Album

First impression: Heligoland makes me want to take these Senneheisers into a sensory deprivation chamber and let phosphenes work their magic.

Second impression: Too entranced to move, so this computer-on-the-kitchen-table setup will have to do.

But seriously, if you haven’t picked up Heligoland yet, you’re missing out. Especially if you’re into their brand of dark, calm, trip-hop (perfect for spring-cram-study-sessions if I may saysomyself). The album is seamless incorporation of various fun people and minor chords. If there was an English word seated directly between ominous and optimistic (semantically, not alphabetically) it would probably be the most appropriate. This is why I can’t write nice things.
For whatever reason, we tend to be pretty harsh critics when Bands We Love release A New Album: sometimes you have to listen to music a few times before you can truly appreciate it. Yet Heligoland sucked me in on contact. The layers of sound are woven flawlessly, allowing you to deconstruct the levels of instrumentation or just let it hit you all at once. Back to first impressions, I was genuinely moved. Inspired, even. Closing my eyes, letting the audio flow over my consciousness, I swear I was one sensory deprivation chamber short of conjuring up an accompanying visual trip a la Interstella 555 (Hm note to self: get on that). Luckily for us chamberless folk, there have been five professional visual interpretations of songs from the album. All are absolutely phenomenal and I highly recommend this screening be your next break from productivity:
Splitting the Atom – directed by Edouard Salier Beyond being a miraculous work of CGI rendering, this pretty much exemplifies the “darkly sensual” tone of their sound in general and this album in particular. Cherry on top of the delicious video? You’re hearing reggae-singer/songwriter Horace Andy (see: awesome voice from MA’s Angel) and creepy keyboardings of Damon Albarn (aka Gorillaz…and 25% of Blur). Fantastique!
Paradise Circus – directed by Toby Dye (classy, but NSFW) This microdocumentary accentuates the song’s underlying eroticism overlaying Georgina Spelvin’s insight on the surreality of film, the narrative of sex, and the Devil Inside of us (allusion alert!) over vintage clips of her most famous work.
Flat of the Blade – directed by Ewen Spencer A day-in-the-life glimpse of black youth sifting through memories and experiences and music. Ambiguous, yet implicitly haunting.
Saturday Come Slow – Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin Exploring the physical effects of sound, resonance and vibration on the human body. Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Ruhal Ahmed reflects on his experiences, like high-volume music interrogations. Stunning, eerie visuals.
Splitting the Atom (Round Two) Except this time it’s about Bullfighting. Proof that you can affix this music to essentially any image and leave the audience residually unsettled (and that’s why we love them so!)
Last but not least: Atlas Air Live from Russia with love.
Apparently the song is named after an airline company that sold out to the US military after going bankrupt by transporting supplies to war zones. My only source is some dude on YouTube, so take it with a grain or two.
Then again, in all honesty I don’t even care what the song is about. The music this band produces transcends meaning. I’ll bother with the allusive (/elusive) meanings of lyrics after I can comprehend the pure audio so uh… this might be a while.
: : : : : Buy the digital download, check out their tour listings, or find similar music
: : : : : Official Website: http://massiveattack.com/

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