Splitting The Atom

Album: Heligoland (2009)
Charted: 64


  • This is a track from British musical production duo Massive Attack's fifth studio album, Heligoland. The song was originally released as the lead track of a 2009 EP.
  • The song features the vocals of the Massive Attack duo plus longtime cohort, ragga-reggae veteran Horace Andy. Blur's Damon Albarn plays keyboard.
  • There are references to banking bailouts on this song. Massive Attack founding member Robert "3D" Del Naja quipped to the NME January 16, 2010: "You know us. We like to mix the cod-politics in there, but in a more subtle way."
  • 3D discussed this song with The Independent February 12, 2010: "That was more of an ironic title, I guess. I find that people are constantly arguing about the same thing and it was a metaphor for that kind of constant debate and the fact that nothing ever changes. The lyrics were just like a very short poem that was just saying, 'here we go again, from the 1980s with Thatcher's Britain, to the start of the 1990s with our first album, with the political climate and the background of the Middle East crisis, recession, boom, bust, the whole thing, you know. And obviously all with more than a nod back towards the Specials and UB40 and what they represented at the time. Because they're two bands that were really important to me when I was a kid.
    But the end of it is like, 'the last of the last particles, the visible invisible.' It will all just reduce and reduce and reduce until maybe you can find peace in sort of like miniature. Because it only needs one clear starry night to make you feel like your problems don't mean anything anyway."
  • The album title name checks a small cluster of German islands in the North Sea that were used as a bombing range by the British between 1945 and 1952. 3D explained the album title to The Independent: "I was watching Shadow Of The Vampire, which was partly shot or partly based on the Heligoland Islands and when the word came up on the screen I thought: 'Wow! I love that!' Then, when I was doing my research, I realised that the place had quite a lot of really weird and wonderful history. One of the meanings of the name is 'holy island', which is obviously very poetic in this day and age.
    And I love the fact that the British tried to detonate the biggest sub-nuclear bomb ever, called The Big Bang, on the island just after the Second World War. The actual destruction of the islands was thought of as an acceptable consequence of the detonation, which I thought was mental."


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