By Nick Manteris · 2 Comments · Leave a Comment
Where Did The Night Fall shows a brand new side of UNKLE. From the very beginning, James Lavelle has been working with artists from different genres to create a unique style of music, but this time it seems like the people that he’s chosen to collaborate with have significantly influenced the sound in a new direction.
For the first album, Psyence Fiction, UNKLE consisted of James Lavelle and DJ Shadow. They collaborated with artists like Thom Yorke, Richard Ashcroft, Kool G Rap and Mike D to create an album that is best describes as trip-hop. Richard File replaced DJ Shadow on the second album, Never, Never Land, a more dancey-sounding record which hosted guests like Ian Brown, Josh Homme and Robert Del Naja. The duo of Lavelle and File continued to write music together for the third album, War Stories, which had a more rock-based sound and once again featured Homme and Del Naja as well as contributions from Ian Astbury, The Duke Spirit and Autolux. (Digression: One has to wonder if the collaborations with Robert Del Naja had any influence on Massive Attack’s Heligoland, an album with a similar multi-guest configuration.) Pablo Clements joined the band in the time between War Stories and Where Did The Night Fall, right around the time that Richard File decided to leave to work on solo material.
Where Did The Night Fall is the first main studio release with co-collaborator Pablo Clements (who wanted to make “more of a groove-based record”) and James Griffith, the self-described “silent third member” of UNKLE, (who, according to Lavelle, was “heavily involved in the writing process.”) Griffith is the bass player of UNKLE’s touring band (a group from Baltimore known as Big in Japan) and they are credited on one of the lesser tracks on the album.
On the UNKLE blog, Lavelle explained that for this album he wanted the music to feel “more uplifting and optimistic than previous records” …like an “eclectic psychedelic trip.” They probably could have accomplished this without outside help, but getting psychedelic bands like The Black Angels and Sleepy Sun (I commented on Sleepy Sun when I saw them open up for Arctic Monkeys earlier this month.) surely helped out a lot with those goals…there are definite psychedelic qualities to the album and it has a positive vibe. Both of the tracks featuring Elle J are great, as is the contribution from returning guest Autolux. Unfortunately, the counterpoint to these exceptional tracks are "The Answer," "Natural Selection" and "Another Night Out," which are all mostly unremarkable. The remaining songs on this album are all really good though, and the album as a whole is highly recommended. There are some behind-the-scenes videos (and two free downloadable songs!) on the UNKLE website and Lavelle describes the first three albums as a trilogy, adding, “that part of UNKLE is finished …and this is a whole new chapter.” I can't wait to hear what's next.