UNKLE, the group led by James Lavelle, have announced the upcoming release of their fifth studio album, The Road Part 1. News of the release comes after UNKLE dropped the video for “The Road” (watch the video below) directed by Norbert Schoerner in January.
As with previous UNKLE efforts the full-length features a coterie of notable contributors. This time around Lavelle has tapped the musical services of London folk-rock artist/poet Keaton Henson, Primal Scream’s Andrew Innes, The Duke Spirit’s Liela Moss, singer-songwriter/UNKLE collaborator Mark Lanegan, Mercury Prize nominee ESKA, Queens of the Stone Age drummer Jon Theodore and Beck drummer Justin Stanley. There’s also appearances by emerging artists Elliott Power, Mïnk and YSEÉ as well as contributions from long-time collaborators Philip Sheppard, Chris Goss, Twiggy and Troy Van Leeuwen.
According to a statement, The Road Part 1 was recorded in UK, Europe and Los Angeles’ Pink Duck Studios,
Obligatory press gush from Lavelle about the album: “I hadn’t made a record in a long time, and the incarnation of UNKLE had changed in that now, it was me on my own. For that reason, I wanted to make a record that I hadn’t been able to before, going back to the roots of where I came from, with a foot in modern London.”
A real mish-mash third time up from Timo Maas, ploughing what could be termed a dance-punk route that finds thrills in hacking into computers on the run, while including 2011’s Brian Molko collaboration “College ‘84,” reasonable hip-hop outing “Grown Up” with Mikill Pane, and crystal-tipped house wandering star “Tantra.” After a ponderous, Asian-pinned opening that doesn’t really set the tone other than being one divergent strand amongst many, it’s the sub-goth quiet storms involving road-trippers Katie Cruel and James Lavelle that may leave you hanging, compounded by the twiddles of “Abundance” aiming for edge of the seat but not giving itself time to finish the job. The rocky roads travelled on “Scope” claw back the balance, providing a past-midnight awakening through long and stirring synth rolls.
At its most energetic, “Kick 1 Kick 2” makes the most of being given the freedom to rupture the earth with an ear-splitting techno boom and pound, but the spark goes missing elsewhere. “Train in my Kitchen,” with pots and pans clattering to beefed up punk-funk bass, doesn’t go anywhere, and “Cash Johnny” shows similar solidity in abrasions wanting the straight and narrow rather than the adventurous. Some good moments, some average moments and some moments that you’ve either heard before or won’t remember again, never has that distinction between the DJ and the artist, and wanting to grasp electronic music’s bigger picture, been truer.