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Experimental hip-hop outfit UNKLE were one of the original artists releasing material through noted U.K. label Mo' Wax, which helped launch the instrumental, mid-'90s downtempo breakbeat revival eventually termed trip-hop. Though hardly the label's highest-profile group (at least until the long-delayed release of their debut LP in 1998), UNKLE's members included label head James Lavelle, who formed Mo' Wax while still in his teens as an antidote to the increasingly stale acid jazz/Northern soul scene. Stripping the music down to its barest of essentials -- bass, percussion, minimal samples, and heavy effects -- the Mo' Wax sound (best exemplified by the second Mo' Wax label comp, Headz, as well as its sequel, the two-part Headz II) quickly gained respectability and a large audience. Although not as prolific as other Mo' Wax artists such as DJs Shadow and Krush, UNKLE nonetheless played a crucial role in cementing Mo' Wax's early sound through their Time Has Come double EP, which featured remixes of the title track by Plaid, Portishead, and U2 producer Howie B. The UNKLE trio was comprised of Lavelle, Tim Goldsworthy (a mate of Lavelle's since childhood), and producer Kudo, of seminal Japanese label Major Force (and a member of the on-again, off-again psychedelic beat crew Skylab). Previous to his entry into production, Lavelle, along with Goldsworthy, was deep into New York hip-hop and electro, the emerging late-'80s Sheffield bleep scene, the English acid jazz scene (which he covered as a columnist for Straight No Chaser magazine), and of course the acid house and techno explosions that were redefining the English counterculture at the time. The pair hooked up with third member Kudo through the growing rep of the latter's Love T.K.O. project, whose outbound interpretations of breakbeat and acid jazz drew Lavelle's ear. While Goldsworthy and Kudo remained more heavily involved in nuts 'n' bolts production (especially given the success of Mo' Wax, with the penning of an expansive partial ownership deal with A&M Records in 1996), Lavelle was heavily involved in the conceptual and organizational end, crafting beats and laying out vague sketches his partners then expanded into full-blown tracks. Despite the scarcity of released material, UNKLE grew to wider acclaim during 1996 through remix projects for Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Tortoise. After Goldsworthy and Kudo were effectively replaced by Mo' Wax bill-payer DJ Shadow, the all-star LP Psyence Fiction finally appeared in 1998. It was a disappointment considering the advance hype, and DJ Shadow distanced himself from the collective. Lavelle, amid much work as a DJ, recruited singer/songwriter Richard File for the second UNKLE full-length, 2003's Never, Never, Land. Four years later, Lavelle and File returned with War Stories, including both collaborators from the past (Josh Homme) and new associates (Ian Astbury, Chris Goss) to contribute to the heaviest-sounding UNKLE release to date. File departed and was replaced with writer, producer, and longtime Mo' Wax associate Pablo Clements (of Psychonauts). A pair of odds 'n' ends collections, More Stories and End Titles...Stories for Film (both released in 2008), featured old and new material, including music from UNKLE's soundtrack to the documentary Odyssey in Rome. In 2009 the "Heavy Drug" single announced the coming of their organic and band-oriented 2010 album Where Did the Night Fall (Another Night Out). The duo's release schedule picked up once more with the 2013 release of an EP titled Trance Film. ~ Sean Cooper & John Bush
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Albums by

Top Songs by

  1.   Song
  2.   Lonely Soul
  3.   Rabbit in Your Headlights by DJ Shadow
  4.   Unkle-Main Title Theme
  5.   Buying a Lie by Lee Gorton
  6.   Price You Pay
  7.   When Things Explode
  8.   Joy Factory
  9.   Heaven
  10.   Reign
  11.   Burn My Shadow
  12.   Open Up Your Eyes
  13.   The Answer
  14.   Restless
  15.   Cut Me Loose Stirngs Reprise
  16.   Wash the Love Away by Gavin Clark
  17.   The Runaway
  18.   Falling Stars
  19.   Clouds
  20.   Look Inside Yourself
  21.   Twilight
  22.   A Perfect Storm
  23.   Getting Ahead in the Lucrative Field of Artist Management
  24.   Sick Lullaby by Keaton Henson
  25.   Cowboys or Indians
  26.   Sayonara
  27.   Erebus
  28.   Ghosts Strings Reprise
  29.   The Dog is Black
  30.   Only the Lonely
  31.   Money and Run
  32.   The Healing
  33.   On a Wire
  34.   Nowhere
  35.   Natural Selection
  36.   Heavy Drug
  37.   Follow Me Down
  38.   Ever Rest
  39.   Caged Bird
  40.   Another Night Out
  41.   Ablivion
  42.   The Piano Echoes
  43.   Romeo Void
  44.   Black Mass
  45.   In a Broken Dream
  46.   24 Frames
  47.   Can't Hurt
  48.   Trouble In Paradise (Variation On a Theme)
  49.   Ghosts
  50.   Cut Me Loose
  51.   Kaned and Abel
  52.   Intro
  53.   Twilight
  54.   Chemistry
  55.   When Things Explode
  56.   Restless
  57.   Hold My Hand
  58.   In a State
  59.   Sunday Song by Rachel Fannan
  60.   Nursery Rhyme/Breather by Badly Drawn Boy
  61.   In A State by Liela Moss
  62.   Even Balance, Pt. 2
  63.   Against the Grain
  64.   Nocturnal
  65.   Chemical
  66.   Blade In the Back
  67.   End Titles
  68.   Synthetic Water
  69.   [Untitled]
  70.   Mistress by Alice Temple
  71.   [Untitled]
  72.   Broken
  73.   Broken
  74.   Morning Rage
  75.   Mayday by The Duke Spirit
  76.   Outro
  77.   Guns Blazing (Drums of Death Pt. 1)
  78.   Chaos
  79.   Celestial Annihilation
  80.   Clouds Feat Black Mountain
  81.   Persons & Machinery
  82.   The Knock (Drums of Death Pt. 2)
  83.   Lawless
  84.   With You In My Head by Liela Moss
  85.   Even Balance
  86.   When Once It Was
  87.   With You in My Head by The Black Angels
  88.   Keys To The Kingdom
  89.   Touch Me by Liela Moss