The graffiti art that adorns the cover of Heligoland, Massive Attack's 2010 album, is in creator Robert del Naja's words "a fucked-up representation of cultural identity crisis and ignorance." A colourless rainbow hangs over the face of a minstrel, a startling reminder of the "nasty heart" of British institutions. It was a cover for a decaying, post-credit crunch Britain and seemed to be too much for authorities to handle - TfL forced Robert del Naja, one of Massive Attack's founders and the artist behind the cover, to redesign it to look less like graffiti.

Del Naja has been central to defining the band's aesthetic style. As a kid he practiced graffiti before the form could even dream of the lofty acceptance bestowed by a name like "street art", whilst he would quit the street for the recording studio, he would never leave art behind, instead working (sometimes alone and sometimes with collaborators) on the visual aspects of Massive Attack. From posters, to cover art, to unique packaging, right up to the spectacular UVA produced light show that accompanies the band on tour, Del Naja has always provided the band with a visual style that matches the band's sound.

3D and the Art of Massive Attack looks back over the entirety of 3D's career as a visual artist, taking us from his early beginnings in 1983 as a graffiti artist up to the present day and the band's collaboration with filmmaker Adam Curtis in 2013. Aside from focusing on the art, the book also presents archival images of 3D, Daddy G (Grant Marshall) and Mushroom (Andy Vowles) - the founding members of Massive Attack - as well related paraphernalia including, but not limited to, a charge sheet addressed to del Naja and a Japanese flyer for a Wild Bunch show - a club collective through which del Naja met Marshall. This flyer (which was not created by 3D or anyone involved with Wild Bunch) is particularly interesting as the book's interview with del Naja reveals that the horribly racist depiction of Claude Williams and Marshall on the flyer eventually became the inspiration for the minstrel on the cover of Heligoland.

This insight into del Naja's evolving art is the main strength of the book. Interestingly most of this evolution is simply communicated through the imagery, with the reader allowed to make their own connections. So we are shown photographs of 3D's tags that appeared around Bristol, before being presented with examples of the flyers he created for Bristol club nights, and Wild Bunch shows. Elsewhere we see the introduction of humanoid figures in 3D's art, which eventually takes form in the "Eurochild" of Protection's album cover.

There's a lot of art spread across the book's 400 pages, which means that there are plenty of highlights but, for this writer at least, the most interesting shots come from the section dedicated to the creation of 100th Window's artwork. Whilst the album itself is probably one of Massive Attack's weaker efforts, and came at a point when Mushroom had left the band and Daddy G was refusing to enter the studio, it marks a difficult spot in the band's history. 100th Window's image of a glass figure being shattered is a striking image, and reflects the fractious nature of the band at this point. The photographs in 3D and the Art of Massive Attack show the studio set-up as well as the life-size glass models that del Naja and collaborators Tom Hingston and Nick Knight fired ballistics into and a contact sheet showing the process of deciding on the final font for the cover.

A thin booklet included within the book provides some background information in the form of an interview between del Naja and Sean Bidder. This is interesting, but on the whole feels light on content. The booklet also contains black and white thumbnails of every page of the book, providing a caption and credit for every image featured. A helpful addition, but it feels like it could have just been a part of the main book, rather than a removable piece. It could be argued that this makes it easier for readers to see credits whilst keeping the images full-bleed, but I'd question how many readers would really be that interested in the details, especially when they often offer little that can't be guessed from the images themselves. The shots of live shows and album art process work are pretty obvious, the provided captions and credits don't add anything.

One of the factors which makes it difficult to easily include the interview and photo credits within the main book is the fact it's reversible. Holding the book as you would normally you'd comfortably flick forward until you reach the halfway point. If you're like me, on your first read you'll continue flicking forward a couple more pages before realising everything's upside down. You'll flip the book so the images are the right way up, turn to what was the back cover and discover it's a new, alternate cover you hadn't noticed before. It's an interesting way of presenting the book - essentially dividing it into two distinct halves. It, unfortunately, feels a little like a gimmick and seems at odds with the content inside, with neither half feeling distinct from the other. In fact the book is presented chronologically (or reverse-chronologically if you read from the other side) so having to flip the book in this way disrupts the flow - it's almost as if the designer couldn't decide whether to show del Naja's evolution from street art to audio-visual installations, or start at the end and work backwards to show how he got there. It feels like a compromise, which is unfortunate as nothing in Massive Attack's career has ever felt that way.

Aside from these complaints 3D and the Art of Massive Attack is a well presented and beautiful retrospective. Whilst it doesn't have the depth that might be expected from more traditional artist monographs, the interview and process shots do offer a little more insight into del Naja's artistic intentions and evolution. As a result it manages to avoid being just a curiosity for Massive Attack fans and instead offers something for people with an interest in audio-visual work, graphic design, street art and photography as well as the link between these disciplines and music.