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Unkle|Psyence Fiction

Psyence Fiction

UNKLE

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James Lavelle and DJ Shadow are unequal partners in UNKLE, with the former providing the concept and the latter providing music, which naturally overshadows the concept, since the only clear concept -- apart from futuristic sound effects, video-game samples, and merging trip-hop with rock -- is collaborating with a variety of musicians, from superstars to cult favorites Kool G Rap, Alice Temple, and Mark Hollis (who provides uncredited piano on "Chaos"). Since Shadow's prime gift is for instrumentals, the prospect of him collaborating with vocalists is more intriguing than enticing, and Psyence Fiction is appropriately divided between brilliance and failed experiments. Shadow and Lavelle aren't breaking new territory here -- beneath the harder rock edge, full-fledged songs, and occasional melodicism, the album stays on the course Endtroducing... set. Shadow isn't given room to run wild with his soundscapes, and only a couple of cuts, such as the explosive opener, "Guns Blazing," equal the sonic collages of his debut. Initially, that may be a disappointment, but UNKLE gains momentum on repeated listens. Portions of the record still sound a little awkward -- Mike D's contribution suffers primarily from recycled Hello Nasty rhyme schemes -- yet those moments are overshadowed by Shadow's imagination and unpredictable highlights, such as Temple's chilly "Bloodstain" or Badly Drawn Boy's claustrophobic "Nursery Rhyme," as well as the masterstrokes fronted by Richard Ashcroft (a sweeping, neo-symphonic "Lonely Soul") and Thom Yorke (the moody "Rabbit in Your Headlights"). These moments might not add up to an overpowering record, but in some ways Psyence Fiction is something better -- a superstar project that doesn't play it safe and actually has its share of rich, rewarding music.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Psyence Fiction

Unkle

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1
Guns Blazing (Drums Of Death Pt. 1)
00:05:03

Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Lyrics Born, Rap Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Josh Davis, Composer - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Lateef The Truth Speaker, Rap Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kool G Rap, Rap Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Nathaniel Thomas Wilson, Author - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

2
U.N.K.L.E. Main Title Theme
00:03:24

Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Josh Davis, ComposerLyricist - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

3
Bloodstain
00:05:57

Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Josh Davis, Composer - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Alice Temple, Author, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

4
Unreal
00:05:09

Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Josh Davis, Composer - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Jules Blattner, Author - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

5
Lonely Soul
00:08:54

London Session Orchestra, Orchestra/Member, AssociatedPerformer - Will Malone, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Ashcroft, Author, Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Wil Malone, Author - Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Josh Davis, Composer - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

6
Getting Ahead In The Lucrative Field Of Artist Management
00:00:57

Scott Joplin, ComposerLyricist - Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

7
Nursery Rhyme / Breather
00:04:45

Badly Drawn Boy, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - DJ SHADOW, Composer, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Damon Michael Gough, Author - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

8
Celestial Annihilation
00:04:45

London Session Orchestra, Orchestra/Member, AssociatedPerformer - Will Malone, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Wil Malone, Author - Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Josh Davis, Composer - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

9
The Knock (Drums Of Death Pt. 2)
00:03:57

Mike D., Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Jason Newsted, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Josh Davis, Composer - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Louis Diamond, Author - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

10
Chaos
00:04:41

Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Atlantique, Guitar, Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Atlantique Vénus Nguyen Manh Khanh, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

11
Rabbit In Your Headlights
00:06:17

Thom Yorke, Author, Bass Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocalist, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Josh Davis, Composer - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

12
Outro (Mandatory)
00:01:09

Unkle, Producer, MainArtist - Josh Davis, Composer - DJ SHADOW, Music Production, AssociatedPerformer - James Lavelle, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Abbiss, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1998 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

13
Be There
00:05:19

Unkle, Producer, Music Production, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Josh Davis, ComposerLyricist - James Lavelle, Producer, Arranger, Co-Arranger, Additional Producer, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Ian Brown, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1999 Mowax Recordings/A&M Records Ltd.

Album Description

James Lavelle and DJ Shadow are unequal partners in UNKLE, with the former providing the concept and the latter providing music, which naturally overshadows the concept, since the only clear concept -- apart from futuristic sound effects, video-game samples, and merging trip-hop with rock -- is collaborating with a variety of musicians, from superstars to cult favorites Kool G Rap, Alice Temple, and Mark Hollis (who provides uncredited piano on "Chaos"). Since Shadow's prime gift is for instrumentals, the prospect of him collaborating with vocalists is more intriguing than enticing, and Psyence Fiction is appropriately divided between brilliance and failed experiments. Shadow and Lavelle aren't breaking new territory here -- beneath the harder rock edge, full-fledged songs, and occasional melodicism, the album stays on the course Endtroducing... set. Shadow isn't given room to run wild with his soundscapes, and only a couple of cuts, such as the explosive opener, "Guns Blazing," equal the sonic collages of his debut. Initially, that may be a disappointment, but UNKLE gains momentum on repeated listens. Portions of the record still sound a little awkward -- Mike D's contribution suffers primarily from recycled Hello Nasty rhyme schemes -- yet those moments are overshadowed by Shadow's imagination and unpredictable highlights, such as Temple's chilly "Bloodstain" or Badly Drawn Boy's claustrophobic "Nursery Rhyme," as well as the masterstrokes fronted by Richard Ashcroft (a sweeping, neo-symphonic "Lonely Soul") and Thom Yorke (the moody "Rabbit in Your Headlights"). These moments might not add up to an overpowering record, but in some ways Psyence Fiction is something better -- a superstar project that doesn't play it safe and actually has its share of rich, rewarding music.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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