Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Never Never Land
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Pop, R&B
Almost five years have passed since UNKLE's debut album Psyence Fiction, one of the nineties more important and controversial musical releases which featured producer DJ Shadow, The Verve's Richard Ashcroft and Mike D of t... more »
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Almost five years have passed since UNKLE's debut album Psyence Fiction, one of the nineties more important and controversial musical releases which featured producer DJ Shadow, The Verve's Richard Ashcroft and Mike D of the Beastie Boys on vocal duties. Additional album highlights were Thom Yorke's haunting "Rabbit In Your Headlights" and a then unknown, Badly Drawn Boy's cathartic "Nursery Rhyme." But that was then and this is now... now is very different. Following the release of Psyence Fiction, Shadow returned to the States to work on The Private Press (with Lavelle as A&R). James Lavelle is the constant in UNKLE and he's forged a new production partnership with long-time friend Richard File for UNKLE?s new album, Never Never Land. Lavelle said of File in Jockey Slut 2002: "Richard loves music, he's open-minded, he's brilliant technically, he's an absolute lunatic, he's a star, he's my best friend." In 2000, they moved into an Old Street flat together. It proved a very hedonistic time, a lost weekend that actually turned quite fruitful. In the same year they produced the band South for Mo' Wax and recorded a brooding, sinister soundtrack to Jonathan Glaser's film "Sexy Beast". On the long awaited sophomore UNKLE endeavor, Stone Roses front man Ian Brown--whose "Be There" with UNKLE in 1998 went top ten--returns on the album's lead-off single "Reign" with fellow Roses member Mani tending to bass. Long time friend and inspiration 3D (of Massive Attack) contributes to "Invasion," Jarvis Cocker and Brian Eno duel with synths on "I Need Something Stronger," Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age contributes a schizoid vocal over a bassquake on "Safe In Mind" and Joel Cadbury of South's pretty Beatles-esque ballad "Glow" is the penultimate track. The album is rich in atmosphere, a lush cinematic experience in sensurround sound. If Psyence Fiction sounded like the future, Never Never Land is a post-apocalyptic travel log. And it's been quite a trip for the men from UNKLE.
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Mark Eremite | Seoul, South Korea | 01/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know who U.N.K.L.E. is. The liner notes on this album are a dizzying mish-mosh of hundreds of names. Who, I wonder, is responsible for this harshly tender and touching album?
Ostensibly, the helmsmen are James Lavelle (who did much of the exquisite and expansive producing) and collaborator Richard File (whose voice shows up on over a third of the songs). But these two are guiding a ship that is staffed with a pretty talented crew, including Brian Eno, 3D (of Massive Attack), Jarvis Cocker, Josh Homme (from Queens of the Stone Age), and Ian Brown.
Some argued (when the album was released, and even now) that despite (or because of) the wide array of talent around the record, the end result is uneven and unfocused. Lavelle, in interviews, countered by saying that a unifying theme was one of childhoods lost, of personal growth in the face of unstoppable time. This makes some sense, given the title and the lead track ("Back and Forth," in which we are told that life is "changes ... what you gotta go through your whole lifetime"). In spite of Lavelle's claim, thought, there is some sonic discrepancy between a few tracks, but this seems like small potatoes when those tracks are already so well done to begin with.
Most of the record is buffeted up by powerful waves of sound (some of them more than reminiscent of the men behind their making; 3D's "Invasion" sounds like it was lifted straight out of a Massive Attack album), floating on lofty currents of bass, much of it sparkling with arteries of synth bright enough to bring some light to the dreary lyrics. This is, to be sure, electronica, but it is electronica at its genesis, before it had taken great pains to distance itself so exclusively from anything even remotely mainstream. As such, a few tracks have a commercial hue about them, but none of them are anything but themselves. This is not the electronica of today -- experimentation for the sake of experimentation. This is a humbler and more naive version -- experimentation for the sake of good music.
And good music it is. "Glow" is an evocative anthem that seems to be fighting valiantly (and soulfully) against the effects of a general anaesthetic. "I Need Something Stronger," with its tender purrs and passive industrial heartbeat, unfurls like the soundtrack to an android's daydream. "Eye For An Eye" sounds inspired by Zepplin's anthematic energy, weaving bright vocals with a cataclysmic mesh of distortion and bass. "Reign," with its stringed backbone and slightly-trite chorus, is kept from sounding Prepackaged-And-Radio-Ready by Ian Brown's distinctively clear voice and a bass line provided by his ex-band member, Mani (of The Stone Roses).
The overall product is one that is billowing and clean, oceans-full and flowing, produced with meticulous attention to every trill and tremble. And although the various contributors (and, to a greater extent, U.N.K.L.E.'s fuzzy facelessness) mean that the songs don't always complement each other so well, that doesn't also mean those songs aren't good enough as it is. Because, in fact, they're great."
Please be objective ....
Jorge Alvarado | 02/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is not the UNKLE we've grown to love. With that out of the way, we can take a look at this Shadow-less UNKLE release.
The album has a good length to it with some additional remixes at the end. You do get your money's worth though but at the expense of quality. With the exception of Eye for and Eye, In a State, and Reign, there really isn't much there. The remaining tracks are pretty good but nothing definative or memorable. This might be a good album to have as background music to a posh restaurant or lounge.
I can see how this might've turned off people expecting Psyence Fiction 2, but for a lounge album, this isn't bad at all. A solid 3 stars.