UNKLE - Psyence Fiction (2xLP Vinyl)

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Psyence Fiction is the debut studio album by British-American electronic music group Unkle, released on 24 August 1998 by Mo' Wax. The creation of the album was helmed by the duo of James Lavelle and DJ Shadow, with the former overseeing the album's themes and the latter handling musical composition. Psyence Fiction also features contributions from a varied cast of guest musicians recruited by Lavelle.

Psyence Fiction was widely anticipated due to its high-profile cast of collaborators, with Shadow's involvement in particular leading to expectations that the album "would be a sort of Endtroducing..... Part II" - This album was released in the middle of a huge world of hype surrounding both Lavelle (essentially the A&R guy) and DJ Shadow (a DJ/producer genius). A tension grew between the two with Lavelle shamelessly taking credit for writing duties and Shadow's role being diminished as a producer. This was the late 90s when hedonism was central to how people worked, this naturally causing friction between the two personalities. 

Disillusioned with the project, DJ Shadow departed Unkle following Psyence Fiction's release and distanced himself from the album. Years later, James Lavelle opined that the album's hype ended up overshadowing its musical content, adding that he felt it was released at a time "when people wanted [him] to fail". Shadow would later soften his stance on Psyence Fiction, remarking in a 2010 interview that he viewed the album fondly despite it being "somehow flawed".

A trip-hop classic. If you like DJ Shadow, David Holmes, Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky, Radiohead, Suuns, Wooden Shjips...you'll love this LP.

Featuring collabs from; The Beastie Boys, Ian Brown, Richard Ashcroft, Thom Yorke, Badly Drawn Boy & Alice Temple.


Both "Drums of Death", "Lonely Soul", "Celestial Annihilation" and especially "Rabbit in Your Headlights" (spoiler: click to read) show the legendary album this could've been- the rest is scattered, never uninteresting but not always engaging, and sometimes feeling too much like a novelty. Absolutely worth hearing, but maybe a little unsatisfying by design- you can feel the opposite impulses of Shadow and Lavelle pulling against each other, and it doesn't always lead to success, and the rest of UNKLE's career would bare out that James won this particular war. Although given UNKLE's eventual bland consistency and Shadow's comparative creative restlessness, maybe Shadow either waived the white flag in that battle or was only ever in this collaboration for one album anyway.

A 10/10 essential late 90s artifact if it's an EP with the tracks I gave you (plus maybe the middle interlude and outro for color) becomes a worthwhile but inessential curiosity with the remaining tracks.

If you're patient enough to dig, most of this material has been significantly improved upon by edits and remixes.

By: Patrique

A1 Guns Blazing (Drums Of Death Part 1)
A2 UNKLE Main Title Theme
A3 Bloodstain
Vocals, Words By – Alice Temple
B1 Unreal
B2 Lonely Soul
Vocals, Words By – Richard Ashcroft
B3 Getting Ahead In The Lucrative Field Of Artist Management
C1 Nursery Rhyme
Vocals, Words By – Badly Drawn Boy
C2 Breather
C3 Celestial Annihilation
C4 The Knock (Drums Of Death Part 2)
D1 Chaos
D2 Rabbit In Your Headlights
Vocals, Words By – Thom Yorke
D3 Outro (Mandatory)

Product Dimensions : 12.44 x 12.44 x 0.2 inches; 1.19 Pounds
Manufacturer : London
Date First Available : January 11, 2019
Label : London
Number of discs : 2