Formed in the mid '90s, trip-hop act UNKLE was started by the owners of the U.K. electronica/dance label Mo' Wax, James Lavell and Tim Goldsworthy, with turntable ace DJ Shadow on board as well. The group's success was brought on by a cerebral yet highly fun mix of hip-hop beats, woozy jazz samples, and high-profile guest lists that included at various points Ian Brown, Mike D., Thom Yorke, and Josh Homme among many others. UNKLE's 1998 debut full-length, PSYENCE FICTION, is a classic of the illbient/turtablism sound. Lavelle, along with a rotating cast of collaborators, released two more full-lengths under the UNKLE name, including another star-studded affair in 2007's WAR STORIES. Goldsworthy, who left UNKLE early on, founded the DFA record label in 2001 with American James Murphy.
Japanese edition of 1998 album for Mo Wax with two bonus tracks added: ''Guns Blazing'' (Drums Of Death Pt.1) (Instrumental) and ''The Knock'' (Drums Of Death Pt.2) (Instrumental). 14 tracks total, also including the single ''Rabbit In Your Headlights'' (with Radiohead''s Thom Yorke as guest vocalist) and a hidden, untitled track. Other guests include Beastie Boy Mike D, Metallica''s Jason Newsted and The Verve''s Richard Ashcroft. Comes in a hardbound slipcase with the front cover opening like gates that is limited to the initial pressing only.
This ambitious effort shows Mo'' Wax label guru James Lavelle taking on the role of director, orchestrating a grand design, and translating it musically with the talents of studio muse DJ Shadow. Most accustomed to working solo, Shadow demonstrates here his adaptable talents in collaborating with others, whether it''s on the powerful "Rabbit in Your Headlights," a track recorded in 1996 in which Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke eerily foreshadows his later success, or in "Guns Blazing (Drums of Death Pt. 1)," the album''s only traditional hip-hop track, which pairs annihilating beats to Kool G Rap''s equally lethal vocal delivery. Psyence Fiction, which also features contributions from Beastie Boy Mike D and the Verve''s Richard Ashcroft, is certainly one of the most epic and eclectic records to emerge from the electronic world this year, one that should not only further the efforts to bridge the musical segregation that exists among the hip-hop, alternative, and electronic camps but also introduce these cultures to a few new surprises of its own. --Tamara Palmer
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