Label – Surrender All (SURR017CD, SURR017LP)
Format – CD, LP, download
Country – UK
Released – 2010
Genre – Electronic, Rock, Pop, Leftfield
UNKLE are a bit of an anachronism; most people would associate them with James Lavelle of Mo’Wax records and place them firmly in the “electronic dance” genre of music. Whilst it is true that at the beginning UNKLE created hybrid DJ albums which mixed/cut up film soundtracks with bleepy beats and DJ Shadow-esque noodlings, their recent studio albums have moved to a more rock-oriented sound. Check out “Edit music for a film” for the best example of the DJ mixes UNKLE produced.
I remain a fan of the DJ albums, which are crafted with skill and which feature many excellent songs as well as snippets of some of my favourite movies. However, the newer UNKLE sound is one which has impressed me much more.
The albums Never Never Land (2003) and War Stories (2007) established the new UNKLE sound; solid guitar and electronic-driven tunes, usually featuring several guest vocalists as well as producers and remixers such as Robert Del Naja (Massive Attack), Ian Astbury, Josh Homme and Ian Brown.
Where did the night fall is the most recent, and in my opinion, the best of the newer UNKLE albums. This is a diverse album; the different vocal styles on show mean that the record flows from track to track without ever feeling repetitive or samey, there are driving numbers, laid back numbers and everything in between. On some tracks the production is stripped-back to allow the vocals to take centre stage (The Runaway, Another night out), and on others the tune drives the song forward (Follow me down, On a wire). Never does the production get messy or over-complicated, the rhythms are fresh but simple.
Most albums will feature some standout tracks and some fillers. I can’t think of a single track on this album that I would consider to be a filler – they are all excellent songs in their own right. The flow from energetic tracks to quieter, more laid back numbers is handled with skill and the album seems to me to be one which fits together naturally – the producers have obviously paid close attention to the running order of the songs.
This being the case, it’s difficult to pick out any favourite tracks because they are all excellent! If pressed, I would say that I would favour the first half of the album over the second, Natural Selection, Joy Factory and The Answer providing an awesome 1-2-3 of songs to get you going. Ablivion, The Runaway and The Healing are equally as good too though :)
I can’t fault the instrumentation, or the choice and variation of vocalists across the album. The always-excellent Mark Lanegen lends his vocals to the last track of the album (Another night out) which ends the record on a slow, introspective note; however this doesn’t detract from the energy that flows through the rest of the album.
If you are a fan of electronic music, rock music, or just good music, you owe it to yourself to give this excellent record a try.
Discuss this in the forum here.