The Story Behind The Sleeve #17: Massive Attack – Mezzanine
Released in 1998, Mezzanine arrived as the Britpop flame was dying out. The album cover was a result of the first collaboration between Robert Del Naja, aka 3D, art director Tom Hingston and famed fashion photographer Nick Knight OBE. During the making of Massive Attack’s third album, Del Naja had become fascinated by spiders, dreaming vividly of arachnids and the patterns on their backs. It led ultimately to the sleeve’s stark gatefold black stag beetle on a white background, shot by Knight at the Natural History Museum in London. The final design was a composite of multiple shots. Del Naja has emphasised the sleeve as symbolising a turning point for the Bristol band: “It was a chrysalis moment where we were trying to emerge as something different. We just wanted to firmly establish our own identity and I think Mezzanine was the opportunity to do that.” On the album’s 20th anniversary, the band became the first to encode a record in DNA, and went on to work with Knight again on the ambitious and explosive sleeve for 100th Window, released five years later.