Published on June 22nd, 2010 | by Lisa McInerney1
Review: UNKLE – Where Did The Night Fall
It’d make me a bit of a Bertie-socialist to complain about commercialism in music, wouldn’t it?
As a part-time hippy (with foldaway bare feet), I’d like to waffle on that music needs to be free and unrestrained, and wafting meaningfully around city plazas in the summertime, but being mostly staid and sensible and stiletto-clad, I understand that music is a commodity, and must remain one. If you’re good enough to make music for the rest of us, for God’s sake, you should be paid for your trouble. So that one of the most broadcastable things about UNKLE is that they’ve done the soundtrack to loads of ads and games and tv shows and films shouldn’t bother me. There’s nothing wrong with James Lavelle and his ever-rotating army of cohorts spreading the electronica about like baked butter; every odd end that UNKLE have ever released is good enough for mass consumption. But that even their press releases press into the soundtrack saturation before they focus on anything else is a little off-putting. It makes UNKLE seem a little cheap. Flimsy. Background music. And, in a most unhippylike, most vehement way, I resent that, because UNKLE are not purveyors of fucking background music.
Where Did The Night Fall, UNKLE’s fifth studio album, should prove this to any doubters remaining. It documents a trippy journey for the lads – into psychadelia and round about again, but in a very tight, very intelligent way, with no loosening of that famous electronic groove. Once again, you’ve got a the riotous host of excitingly disparate guest vocalists – Sleepy Sun, The Black Angels, Katrina Ford, Gavin Clark, and the godlike Mark Lanegan, who’ll pick up the awesomness where Josh Homme left it neatly folded in the corner of the band’s Surrender Sounds studio, or so help me. Highlights include the vaguely sinister Joy Factory, featuring rockin’ shoegazers Autolux, and Follow Me Down, an updated White Rabbit for the kind of deep chicks you meet at 4am at your favourite DJ’s afterparty. Yup, this is a taut fusion of dreamy harmony and strong rhythm, but a collection that needs concentration, possibly while stroking one’s chin and making hmmmm noises (UNKLE are to dance fans what The National are to the indie kids). And probably a decent set of headphones, in order to get the most out of it. Either that, or a roomful of very stoned people to share it with. I’m pretty sure both would work.
Where Did The Night Fall is the kind of album that will make you feel disoriented, maybe even disquieted, but very, very clever, too. Which is a hell of a lot more than you’ll get from giving half an ear to an ad soundtrack, now isn’t it?
Where Did The Night Fall is out now, and those summer nights are starting to get hotter and shorter; there’s no better time for it.