There’s something comforting when James Lavelle announces new music from UNKLE and even more comforting when said music is the middle of a trilogy of new tunes from the Electronic genius. And even MORE comforting when said middle album is a massive double disc of new Electro jams.
UNKLE records are like these “everything and the kitchen sink” kinds of albums in terms of guests but thanks to Lavelle’s masterful production and direction, the completed recording never seems lost or disjointed. And that “sink” this time around gathers everyone from usual suspects like The Cult’s Ian Astbury, The Duke Spirit’s Leila Moss and Mark Lanegan to Queens of the Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen and Jon Theodore, Editors’ vocalist Tom Smith to producers Chris Goss and Miink and even actor Brian Cox and Stanley Kubricks’ widow Christiane who both add spoken word performances.
Lanegan kicks off the latest UNKLE album on “Requiem (When You Talk Love)”, a glorious balls out electronic hymnal delivered in that uncanny gravelly rasp as only he can tapered with synthetic walls of sound with Cox and Michèle Lamy each giving ghostly spoken word utterances before subtly climbing off into the sunset.
“Ar.Mour” hearkens back to Psyence Fiction with its’ programmed beats while Editors’ resident mouthpiece, Tom Smith, adopts a sultry croon akin to Edwyn Collins or the late, great former UNKLE collaborator Gavin Clark on “The Other Side”. Queens Of The Stone Age’s resident skin basher (The aforementioned Theodore) provides some staccato rumbling while Elliot Power and Miink trade lines with the latter going for the soaring lines as the former goes for a Tricky-like flow.
“Long Gone” is the complete opposite of what’s come before as this gorgeous, almost symphonic piece resonates and adds even more texture to The Road with Brian Eno collaborator Tessa Angus and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds vocalist Ysée at the helm alongside producer Philip Sheppard.
And this is barely scratching the surface of what happens during the first half, people!
Act II is just as memorable, kicking off with a sonic melting pot in the form of “Crucifixion/A Prophet” which combines the already mentioned talents of Smith, Goss, Miink, and Van Leeuwen with BOC, Justin Stanley, and Eska for a slow rolling synthetic symphony. “Kubrick” is surprisingly light and fluffy and features The Clash’s own Mick Jones while it’s “Iter X: Found” which actually features the widow Kubrick.
Dhani Harrison highlights the piano-driven “Days And Nights” with help from Primal Scream’s Andrew Innes and Sheppard on a track that sounds like what would happen if the elder Harrison collaborated with Sigur Ros. Other stand outs during the second act include the two Leila Moss-led tracks which are like the sun and the moon in terms of sound. Hell, one’s even called “Sun (The)” and that one focuses on the introspective while closer “Touch Me” is a futuristic beats-driven number and the most fitting closer to this banger of a double album.