It’s quite probable that Massive Attack’s Blue Lines is one of my favorite albums of all time. I grew up with it, worn out the LP version, bought the CD version, scratched it repeatedly and is left today with a digitalized mp3 version on three separate drives. If not all of the sudden all the hard drives of the world simultaneously crashes – I should be fine. But what attracted me to Blue Lines in the first place was the roughly edged production with the cut-up mish mash of samples. It didn’t sound polished or processed like Protection or Portishead’s Dummy. It felt raw and alive. Not that surprisingly, it feels as fresh today as it did 20 years ago.
It seems that I’m not alone on this since a big chunk of the thrilling part of contemporary female R&B singers are very much inspired by its sound. We have Emeli Sandé, Jessie Ware, Sky Ferreira and more recently SZA and George Maple, who all in some ways owes a bit to Blue Lines, or at least to those artists who were inspired by it at the time. But this is the first track I’ve heard that is so obviously rooted in its aesthetic.
Londoner’s Moko has fully embraced the melancholic sentiment of “Unfinished Sympathy”; with a backbone of fully orchestrated synth-lines over sampled break-beats, “Freeze” is a delightful piece of progressive R&B (not calling it trip hop in 2013). Just like SZA, Moko pushed the boundaries of contemporary R&B with more than a little help from the past.