The old cliché with film music is that if you notice it, it's not doing its job. I've not seen the movie that this LP accompanies (apparently it stars Jet Li, Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman and it's going to be retitled 'Unleashed') but it'd have to be pretty damn good to avoid being blown away by the soundtrack.
Massive Attack has basically been Robert Del Naja's solo project since the recording of last year's '100th Window'. Here he retains his long-term producer and co-writer Neil Davidge and obeys all the rules that John Barry and Ennio Morricone have laid down for film soundtracks. The music creeps in, slowly and politely, using simple, hypnotic phrases for pianos and strings. There are no jolting chord changes or key modulations to unsettle the viewer – instead their monochordal workouts morph slowly and dramatically using textural changes and odd voicings (zithers, harps, celestes, timpani, heavily reverbed guitars, fuzz bass). Suddenly it lurches around stylistically, from Aphex Twin to AR Rahman; from Morricone to Depth Charge.
To say that it's as good as anything by journeymen composers like David Arnold or Craig Armstrong is to damn it with faint praise. What's fun is wandering around town with this on your personal stereo, your eyes as the camera, as it provides a soundtrack to the most mundane activities.