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