It’s been far too long since we’ve been treated to anything fresh from Bristol’s finest. Splitting The Atom might be just a four-track EP designed to whet the appetite of the legions clamoring after Massive Attack‘s as yet unnamed 2010 LP, but 23 minutes of new material – which, typically, manages to incorporate six guest stars – is substantially better than none at all. The stand out comes with third track -Psyche’, a Van Rivers remix that’s home to the sumptuous, haunting vocals of Martina Topley Bird and sounds like the bubbling yet melancholy soundtrack to a flickering, drowning scene from one of Tarantino’s artier moments. It’s all encompassing, taking listeners on a pulsing road through weird, brain-altering rhythms before Bird’s striking vocals peak with a fluctuating -Si-e-i-e-i-e-i-e-ign’ and the minimalist beats take centre stage.
Title track -Splitting the Atom’ is based around a handful of chords built into a repetitive beat, overlaid with the gruff vocals of regular contributor Horace Andy alongside Daddy G, never deviating from its marching path until the closing minute, when the vocals merge with the instrumentation and everything fades to black. Tunde Adebimpe (of TV and the Radio) takes over on -Pray for Rain’; again as instrumental as lyrical, repeating the same pattern in a slow-builder of a track that has heads nodding to the spaced-out beats.
Final track -Bulletproof Love’ is the one disappointment. Nearly seven minutes of music that takes the beats down to a minimum, and allows Guy Garvey’s competent but far-from-inspiring vocals to take precedent. It drifts past in a bit of an ill-defined daze; a rare uninspired moment from the genre defining Bristolians that’s sadly really quite dull. Still, it’s a bad track amongst three strong ones; all in all, Splitting The Atom will only add to the colossal burden of reputation weighing on the album dubbed LP5. May it be everything seven years of post 100th Window waiting has us hoping for.