Massive Attack member, Robert Del Naja, speaks on Mezzaninexxi and his band’s legacy

In the 1980 short film Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, Herzog insists that a lack of what he calls “adequate images” is a global threat to the world on par with climate change. To illustrate this point, glossy magazine ads are intercut with Herzog’s face as he speaks. Massive Attack’s latest tour Mezzaninexxi is an attempt to create the “new grammar” Herzog advocated, using old material. The show combines a reimagined version of their landmark 1998 album Mezzanine, full covers of songs sampled on the record, and films created by British documentarian Adam Curtis. These collage-like clips create a more pleasant Ludovico Technique-esque trance using archival footage, and occasionally, the kind of “inadequate images” Herzog pushed against — war and assassinations devoid of context, Britney Spears stalked by paparazzi, a crudely deepfaked Donald Trump.

It makes sense, considering Massive Attack are a band built on sample-based alchemy. Mezzanine is a near-timeless album of defragmented dub, a definitive work of the ‘90s that still sounds like an echo from the future. For that reason, it’s more than qualified to be a soundtrack to our terminally distracted modern era. Speaking over the phone from Philadelphia, Massive Attack’s cofounder Robert Del Naja says the new tour is Massive Attack’s “most complete show.” That’s thanks in part to Mezzanine guest vocalists Elizabeth Fraser (“Teardrop,” “Black Milk”) and Horace Andy (“Man Next Door,” “Angel”), who have joined the tour to reprise their contributions. “[The tour] covers how we feel about now, and at the same time it resurrects everything. It resurrects all the ghosts and it frames them in the present,” Del Naja says.

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