Never, Never, Land Special Edition
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Like the end-of-season regenerations of Doctor Who, every new record from James Lavelle's UNKLE finds the musical project at the climax of some dramatic transmutation. Never, Never, Land is no exception. Soon after the release of 1999's Psyence Fiction, beats wizard DJ Shadow announced he'd never work as a member of UNKLE again--and accordingly, the first thing you notice about Never, Never, Land is the absence of his robust percussion. But once over that minor disappointment, it's not hard to wallow in this record's impressively dark scope.
With the aid of new collaborator Richard File, Lavelle has made a record that connects the dots between the creeping melancholy of Talk Talk, the scaly electronics of Massive Attack's Mezzanine and the grand sky-bound epics of the Verve. Like its predecessor, there's a proliferation of guest appearances: Jarvis Cocker, Josh Homme, Brian Eno, Ian Brown, Massive Attack's Robert del Naja. But the vocals are assimilated much more successfully here, ensuring that guest never overpowers song. Lavelle still has a fine eye for casting his songs in the grandest narratives: "Panic Attack" samples the robotic pulse of Joy Division's "She's Not Control" and overlays it with blurred electronic shimmers and driving bass. Mind you, it might be the understated numbers--"Glow", "Inside"--that provide some of the record's loveliest moments. --Louis Pattison
Four years on since Unkle's debut Psyence Fiction, music industry stalwart James Lavelle is back with a new album that promises much and delivers more. With his Mo' Wax label currently in hiatus, the timing for Unkle's return couldn't be better, generating some much needed interest in a scene that's drifted from the underground into the mainstream and then back into the shadows in consecutive years.
Richard File (vocalist, and one time drum 'n' bass aficionado) and songwriter Ant Genn, with Lavelle, now make up the trio. The set opens with the Norman Whitfield/Undisputed Truth-sampling "Eye For An Eye" (a recent UK hit) - the song's animated video recently winning the prestigious McLaren Award for animation at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
"Be There" gave the group their first top ten hit in 1999. It featured the adroit Ian Brown, who again joins the group for the symphonic odyssey, "Reign" - a beautifully constructed soundscape that also features Mani on bass; trivia fans note it's the first time the two have worked together since the hedonistic days of the Stone Roses.
Lavelle's pulling-power also attracts the likes of Jarvis Cocker and Brian Eno on the ethereal electronica of "I Need Something Stronger". Massive Attack's 3D contributes the dark and moody topline on "Invasion", while Queens Of The Stone Age front-man, Josh Homme, features on the stark, yet explosive "Safe In Mind" - surely a single contender.
Never, Never, Land confesses File, is "a clash of high and low emotions", none more so on the beautifully rich "In A State", with Cocker's soothing acoustic strumming working perfectly in unison with Graham Gouldman (of 10cc fame) unearthly vocal. Sasha liked the record so much that in a rare studio sortie he's turned it into an essential club item.
With titles like "Panic Attack", "Invasion", "Safe In Mind" and "What Are You To Me?", it could be argued that Never, Never, Land is drenched in paranoia. It is. So what? Like Radiohead's Kid A it is also rich in metaphors, kaleidoscopic beats, lush cinematic soundscapes and sonic textures that are worthy of your attention. --Jack Smith
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Top Customer Reviews
But as soon as i had heard this album in full i was complety turned around on the matter. Never never land is nothing like Pysence Fixtion and it never tries to be, without Dj Shadows moody beats Never never land takes on a complety diiferent sound, a dramatic sound it still has UNKLEs trademark samples on hand though. Every track on never never land has something different on offer from the ambient synths from ''i need something stronger'' to the fast paced beats in ''Eye for an Eye''.
My highlight is ''Reign''. With Mani and Ian brown reuntied for the first time since the stone roses it packs a powerful punch. The quick strings at the start mixed with the classic Brown Vocals built up to an explosion of sound and the finish is breathtaking allowing Mani to take control and delivering one of the most catchy and heavy bass riffs ive heard in a long time.
All in all if your looking for a repeat of UNKLEs debut this isnt it. The only similarity between the two is an allstar guestlist, never never land taking the likes of Josh Homme, Jarvis Cocker,Ian brown,mani and 3D on.But if anything this is better than its predecessor and is a much easy listen.
This is a brilliant album and any fan of this genre should own it but to fans of UNKLEs previous work this is not Pysence Fiction 2.
This is UNKLE to epic proportions. The case is epic, the art is epic, the music is epic.
The whole thing opens up like some kind of nuclear bunker, or a sci-fi artefact to save the human race. It all fits together and opens up with a satisfying chunkiness that can only be described as cathartic. Once you have admired the layout, and stopped drooling over the CD\DVD combination, pop one of them in and prepare yourself…
It’s not exactly what I was expecting. I recognised a few backing beats and layers from Do Androids Dream Of Electric Beats? and Big Brother Is Watching you, but rather than a sense of a re-hash, it gives a fantastic feeling of EVOLUTION to the proceedings. Indeed, if Psyence Fiction was a little unsure of its own boldness, Never Never Land seems to relish in its dark, sweeping, head-first approach. It doesn’t care that it defines genres, for who needs labels?
It is noticeable that DJ Shadow left the partnership, with the album result being more 100th Window and Furious Angels than Private Press. The fantastic thing is though, is that it is STILL UNKLE. Lavelle has done a fantastic job and pushing through with an album that takes on a new meaning when put together. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.
Let’s not forget though, that the parts are all exquisitely executed. The bonus DVD is fab, the album is simply fantastic, the packaging is superb.
Never Never Land sets itself apart from the world and is strong enough to take it all on. Buy this. Buy it now.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Personally I love this album something a bit different, nice chill out!!Published 13 months ago by Kev,
An excellent album with singers from Radio Head Stone Roses who wouldn't wont this in there selection!!! Turn The Volume u
Although the price may well put a few people off from making this one off, once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase what I can only say is a exceptionally estastic product. Read morePublished on 7 April 2007 by Mr. G. Manuel
Yeap, can't argue with this one. Very good album with a string of quality tracks with some interesting vocal samples and guest singers. Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2007 by Mitya
Hmm... An absolutely excellent listen, providing you're up for slightly deep sounding words every 5 tracks, and some music verging on the suicidal side of Moby's private... Read morePublished on 16 Mar. 2004
I got hold of a copy of the DVD box set of this album. I have the previous masterpiece by UNKLE and was aware that DJ SHadow was not a part of this work. Read morePublished on 19 Feb. 2004 by Mr. J. T. D. Lewis