Release Date: May 11, 2010
Record label: Surrender All
Doing away with any preconceived notions, UNKLE changed things up drastically for their fourth official album. With Richard File out of the picture and Pablo Clements picking up the reins as James Lavelle's sideman, the duo leaves trip-hop and digitally skewed breakbeats at the wayside. As a substitute, the new incarnation goes the band route, using primarily live instrumentation and a garage rock/psych pop sonic palette.
Time hasn't been too kind to James Lavelle's UNKLE project. Just flip the pretty, typically provocative album artwork of Whre Did the Night Fall around and glance at the state of Lavelle's pulling power. It goes without saying that UNKLE's success has depended as much on Lavelle's ability to attract buzz artist collaborators as it has on other things, such as, ooooh, actual music quality; looking at the limited list of collaborators present on the UNKLE project's fourth full album, it looks like Lavelle's schmoozey chat up lines may have become a little stale.
Used to be that I greeted every UNKLE album that came after the infamous Psyence Fiction with, "hey, they're still at it. " But now with Where Did the Night Fall hitting stores in the year 2010, there has been an UNKLE LP released in three consecutive decades-- it's going to be more of a surprise when James Lavelle stops making music. While the resiliency of the UNKLE project is admirable, it was still a bummer that the artistic adventurousness of Lavelle had previously moved in lockstep with the ever-declining stakes.
One would think that downtempo electronic music and psychedelic textures would go hand-in-hand. One would think that the relatively restrained beatwork would make for the use of creative layering of sounds, for room to fit all manner of instruments above those beats. One would think that vocalists, given room to work on top of these tapestries, would pull every trick out of their bags to offer interesting counterpoints to the layers beneath.
The best UNKLE album this century. Chris Roberts 2010 The late-90s days of top five albums and starry guests may be gone, but UNKLE have regrouped with a stirring, seductive minor classic. Presumably those marquee names were holding out for a call from Gorillaz, or Massive Attack, or Soulsavers. It doesn’t matter.