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Massive Attack's new music is hidden inside a spooky iPhone app

Massive Attack's new music is hidden inside a spooky iPhone app


The Fantom 'sensory music player' remixes songs using your heartbeat, location, and time of day

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Carl De Souza/Getty Images

British trip-hop legends Massive Attack haven't released much new music since 2010's Heligoland, but they're poised for a busy 2016. The band released an iPhone app this morning called Fantom, a "sensory music player" that actively remixes pieces of music based on the user's heartbeat, location, local time, and movement. (If you have an Apple Watch, there's a version for you too — it's required to activate the main app's pulse-based features.) The technology's interesting on its own — and it was developed by a team including the band's Robert del Naja — but the most exciting part of the release is the inclusion of four new Massive Attack tracks: "Dead Editors," "Ritual Spirit," "Voodoo in My Blood," and "Take It There."

You can't hear any of the tracks in their full, original versions yet — the app promises that functionality is "coming soon" — but you can hear and warp fragments of all four songs by moving around, pointing the camera in different directions, and using it at different times of day. You can also capture clips of the "remixes" you create and share them as videos. A look at the songwriting credits for each track suggests "Voodoo in My Blood" is a collaboration with Scottish band Young Fathers, and Pitchfork noted the presence of "thaws" on "Take It There," a possible reference to former band member Adrian "Tricky" Thaws. (His last appearance on a Massive Attack record came in 1994.) It isn't yet clear if Fantom is going to arrive on Android and other mobile platforms in some form, but non-iPhone users can read about and sample the experience on the app's website. (If your iPhone is older than a 5S, you should use the website too: you'll have trouble getting the app to work.)

Massive Attack and Young Fathers are currently touring Europe together.