James Lavelle has been one of the most innovative names in music for nigh on a quarter of a century. As the founder member, main songwriter and producer with UNKLE, he initially found fame with the guest-heavy debut album Psyence Fiction, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Since then he's continued to push the envelope not only with his main project, but also with dozens of artists whose records he's written and played on or produced.
The reanimated UNKLE's second album in three years consists of recordings made before and during the period that produced The Road: Pt. II. Orchestrator James Lavelle has likened it to "a mixtape and a journey." Although the subtitle echoes David Lynch's 1997 film, the album's travelogue quality -- with a mood and pace akin to operating a steamroller through a graveyard-shift landscape where slag heaps are the only scenery -- evokes a dystopian version of The Straight Story.
The latest offering from UNKLE is the second part in a trilogy of concept albums collectively representing a journey, itself a sprawling double album, divided into two 40-minute 'acts'…how the A&R person must have wept. But if that sounds a lumpy, arduous thing to swallow, thankfully it's anything but. James Lavelle's epic road trip is extremely palatable.