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