[sic] Magazine

UNKLE – Where Did The Night Fall

After a prolific mid-life spurt, UNKLE , the once lauded name to which James Lavelle applied almost all creative work he has recorded, have careered to here. Whereas previous UNKLE records held a central theme, a central voice, an idea, album five, ‘Where Did The Night Fall’ is perhaps a little more disparate, a little less focused. Without long-time collaborator / vocalist Richard File , the central identity that allowed UNKLE to have a voice and a personality as such, a central humanity, Lavelle, with a revised set of accomplices has ventured forth alone – as he did on the debut ‘Psycience Fiction’ – on a musical journey.

Many of the familiar UNKLE trademarks are here, present and correct ; the insistent and tireless rhythms that propel songs forth with dogged persistence, the epic string parts seemingly borrowed from classic film scores that were never made, the sound of a set of musicians in one particular space and time occupying a singular vision and fulfilling a dictatorship of sound. This makes me sound as if I do not like this. Don’t get me wrong. I love this music, the claustrophobic worldview and intricate parts are insular, committed. The work, the songs, the production are all stronger and more effective than the recent ‘War Stories’ which occasionally veered, with an atmospheric, dense, and sweeping sound. Whilst the record has a mild personality crisis with a large number of guest vocalists, this serves to add a colour to the music, and a lyrical dexterity. ‘Natural Selection’ and ‘Joy Factory’ are grand, human works that mix driving rhythms with a big vision and wonderfully human lyrics – ‘On A Wire’ resembles Underworld.- and best of all, the rather great Gavin Clark adds his weighty chords to the splendiferous ‘Falling Stars’ and ‘The Healing’.

‘Where Did The Night Fall’ is an UNKLE album, alright: an alternate world, a soundscape, a collection of mood pieces and ideas, building a world of their own, with no concessions. They may very well be not as commercially successful as they once were, but now they are definitely their own men, achieving a self-realised artistic vision, walking their own path, and defining their own reality. The formula may have not changed drastically, but UNKLE have found new flavours, new horizons, and are chasing the dusk, where the night did fall.


For more from Mark, please visit The Final Word