UNKLE
Where Did The Night Fall


3.5
great

Review

by Deviant STAFF
May 16th, 2010 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: UNKLE's third decade as a band and they're just getting started

Aside from Massive Attack’s earnest, and somewhat misplaced, attempts at reviving trip hop and cleaning it up to its disillusioned state that it reveled in 15 years ago, the genre as a whole has somehow managed to enter into an almost comatose state, apt given the very feeling it sets out to achieve. MA aside, the genre’s main progenitor’s have all moved on, choosing to dabble in even more unconventional waters; sure there are plenty of Kruders & Dorfmeisters in the world to keep the slow boat rolling along at its accepted pace, but they all seem to be concerned with moving in the more minimalist European circles, always searching for the café chic cool rather than the hazy slow burning soul of yesteryear. DJ Shadow, one of the genre’s main flag bearers, who in the process of almost single handedly spawning the damn genre (who when releasing an album so magnanimous in its splendor almost destroyed the infant he created) was quick to move onto more glorious pursuits; his everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to music now currently seeing him tagging up with the Cut Chemist more nights than not. Tricky is off doing god knows what (and I don’t even think he could give you a straight answer as to what he actually is up too, or has been all these years); Portishead have decided to dabble in shades of Krautrock, and Thievery Corporation have entered into a romance with dub as of late. The point is the foundations of the trip have realized that a good thing can only go so far before something new has to be implemented, and again, aside from MA, most have succeeded in finding a home away from home; some, but not all.

Avoiding the always interesting argument over who should be awarded the accolades regarding UNKLE’s infamous debut Psyence Fiction, it still needs to be said that the album was something of a small landmark in the scene. It was that rare album that while hitting you harder than a ton of bricks right at the get go, also had the uncanny knack of burrowing its way into you, its effects still reeling you back in days later. Whether or not James Lavelle (generally the only constant in the ever changing lineup of UNKLE) has been trying to find his way back to the mind frame he found himself in circa 1998 is a question for another day, but since Shadow’s departure from the fray every album that followed has distanced itself further and further away from the band’s initial spectacle. That’s not to say that they didn’t manage to get the job done right though; the 5 year wait between Psyence and 03’s Never, Never Land could have yielded better results, but that album was still a hell of a drug to get through. While going criminally underrated it still managed to satiate the trip heads that had been champing at the bit for just a few years too long. Sadly, time hasn’t managed to do the boys any favors though, with their last few rounds seeing them hitting the floor more times than they’d probably like. Choosing to move into more alt rock and borderline brit pop-like circles as of late, UNKLE too have managed to move away from their paranoid like beginnings; whether it be for personal vested interest or maybe a more business savvy ideal remains to be seen, but while Where Did The Night Fall and Psyence share less than nothing in common with each other, WDTNF might just be the most consistent thing Lavelle and crew have put out since their innocuous beginnings, and its only taken 14 years.

Perhaps Lavelle’s new found enthusiasm for delivering quality product is a result of a cohesive team behind him. In the first instance in the band’s history have they finally managed to record back to back albums while retaining the same staff throughout. Perhaps the comfortable nature and the familiarity are contributing factors for the improvement, but UNKLE haven’t seemed this relaxed yet still incredibly focused in years. Barring the short intro of ‘Nowhere’, the album begins in high fashion with ‘Follow Me Down’ a track dedicated to inspire, content with its Middle Eastern meets Bjork mashup stylings. ‘Natural Selection’ brings the retro in a big way, catchy and yet unassuming, preferring to just be there rather than do anything in particular. ‘Joy Factory’ works in a very dream pop kind of way, the whole song giving off a very underwater like quality, flowing naturally, choosing to hit you in bursts and waves.

‘The Answer’ signals the first anthem call of the album, a downtempo gem full of vibrancy and life when it finally rolls around to its climax, an almost blatant sing along chant that while coming across as a tad forced still retains a huge sense of earnest and longing, the perfect counterpoint to rally around. ‘Caged Bird’ goes for the jugular, and interspersed with moments of swirling and suspenseful guitar tones lies a hook that pulses and burns more than any strobe light ever could, effective and yet delightfully quintessential. And while Lavelle brings in as many outside influences as any other UNKLE album, one of the big surprises here is the unassisted ‘Ablivion’, that proves that Lavelle is in fact more than competent in carrying a song using nothing more than his own obvious talents. Bouncing off a processed and polished percussion line, strings and synths are the only other compliments on offer that when all tied together end up producing the perfect soundtrack to soar through the clouds. But perhaps the brightest moment on offer in Where Did The Night Fall is when it signals its last call with ‘Another Night Out’. And “last call” might just be the right term here, as guest vocalist Mark Lanegan croons whiskey deep over an almost contemplative backdrop, his voice bringing to mind images of sunlight poring in through the windows of any nameless dive, filled with lost romantics and the ever longing. It’s a poignant moment to end on, and one that manages to sum up the albums thoughts in one fell swoop.

Where Did The Night Fall manages to reveal new facets in the façade of Lavelle and his band of cohorts, and for a group who already wear more than their share of hearts on their sleeves is truly something. Looking ahead 6 months into the future it’s hard to say whether or not I’ll still care for this album, but right now it represents a melancholic yet still playful and passionate sound that manages to warm the soul after hours, and as such I just can’t get enough. And while I do look back with a certain longing at 1998 and wonder at what could have been, its still great to see UNKLE working in new areas and finally doing the job right.



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user ratings (39)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2010


31605 Comments


Follow Me Down:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97E26yTtnLw
The Answer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB7Y6i543eo
Caged Bird:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43-5oC8Yyu8
Another Night out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNfZJwhkEnk

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

Ponton
Emeritus
May 16th 2010


5819 Comments


"the genre has a whole has somehow"

Really good review though. You clearly know your stuff.

Digging: Gates - Bloom and Breathe

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
May 16th 2010


3780 Comments


Hell of a review dude, I like the tracks you posted - this seems to have alot more oomph that their previous stuff.

TheSpirit
May 16th 2010


18001 Comments


sweeet

Digging: The Speed of Sound in Seawater - Red Version

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2010


31605 Comments


Cheers Jared, fixed along with a few others I missed

And yeah Street, there just seems to be a really energetic vibe to this album, something sorely lacking from them as of late. Like I mentioned in the review, perhaps having a stable line up for a follow up has allowed them to let loose a little bit

Spirit: what's with you and all things non metal lately? Have I finally corrupted you?

IanDavila
May 16th 2010


442 Comments


the artwork have some kind of "film noir" feeling, i like it, dont know if i ll check this out

Prophet178
May 16th 2010


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Trip Hop 101 with Professor Deviant.

Agreed on rating.

Slipping Away
May 16th 2010


1261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As long as its better than war stories I'll be happy

Slipping Away
May 16th 2010


1261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There are a few songs on that album that I like but as a whole it just doesn't work for me. When it came out though I actually liked it a lot.

AggravatedYeti
May 16th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

awesome I was on the fence about this
those tracks are great tho, got me sold Deviant.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2010


31605 Comments


Cheers guys

And this is better than War Stories

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2010


31605 Comments


Besides, More Stories>War Stories

MassiveAttack
May 16th 2010


2688 Comments


hot review, hot cover.

MassiveAttack
May 16th 2010


2688 Comments


dude I know this.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2010


31605 Comments


Speaking of Massive Attack (the group, not the user) I wasn't really ragging on them in the review, I was just deeply unimpressed with Heligoland

Geist
May 16th 2010


371 Comments


I didn't really dig this as much. Certainly an improvement over War Stories, but a lot of the songs just feel too relaxed, with no oomph in the mix. Caged Bird and Ablivion are very good, though.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2010


31605 Comments


I didn't really dig this as much. Certainly an improvement over War Stories, but a lot of the songs just feel too relaxed, with no oomph in the mix. Caged Bird and Ablivion are very good, though.

Personally I feel there was a nice balance, as opposed to 1 high energy track mixed with a lot of half realized relaxness, but I see where you are coming from

Potats: I didn't hate it or anything, just expected more from MA

Slipping Away
May 17th 2010


1261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty exited to hear this

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2010


31605 Comments


Be excited, be very excited

Slipping Away
May 31st 2010


1261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Finally got my hands on this and I'm really enjoying it so far, its been a while since I listened to war stories but this definitely feels like an improvement. Right now its in the 3.5 to 4 range, I think I'll give it a four for now. Also pretty good music for rainy days.



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