Unkle (also written as UNKLE and U.N.K.L.E.) is a British musical outfit founded in 1994 by school friends James Lavelle and Tim Goldsworthy. Originally categorized as trip-hop, the group once included producer DJ Shadow and has employed a variety of guest artists and producers.
First incarnation (1994-1996)
Lavelle and Goldsworthy were joined by Masayuki Kudo and Toshio Nakanishi of the Japanese hip hop crew Major Force (later Major Force West). They also brought on board a host of collaborating artists, including Money Mark (keyboard player for the Beastie Boys), the Scratch Perverts and Japanese clothes designer Nigo and Takagi Kan (both also of Major Force). Their first release in 1994 was the EP The Time Has Come, on Lavelle's recording label Mo' Wax.
In 1995, while working on their debut album, Lavelle and Goldsworthy disagreed over the direction the music was taking. Goldsworthy wanted to continue with the Mo' Wax house style of earlier tracks, while Lavelle wanted to bring in singers, hip hop and rock artists. Goldsworthy left the group and went on to work with Belfast DJ and producer David Holmes.
From these early sessions, Berry Meditation and several tracks with Money Mark and Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato Jr. were subsequently released as singles, and several without Lavelle surfaced on the album Major Force West in 1997. In early 1998 three exclusive Japanese EPs were released, Last Orgy 3, marking the last of the early Unkle material to surface.
Second incarnation (1997-1999)
Lavelle drafted in DJ Shadow to work on the debut album, and essentially discarded all previously recorded material. Lavelle and Shadow released Psyence Fiction in 1998 to critical acclaim. The album included collaborations with an all-star lineup including Thom Yorke, Mike D (Beastie Boys), Kool G. Rap, Jason Newsted (Metallica), Badly Drawn Boy and Richard Ashcroft (The Verve).
Shadow left the group after touring Psyence Fiction and was replaced by turntablist group the Scratch Perverts, who deconstructed the album and performed it live on turntables in 1999. Also in 1999, Forme producer Richard File remixed the track "Unreal", adding vocals by Ian Brown, and the resulting track was released as the single "Be There".
Third incarnation (2000-2007)
In 2001, Lavelle and File resurfaced as Unklesounds, with a DJ mix created for Japanese radio entitled Do Androids Dream of Electric Beats? This highlighted a new, more electronic direction the group had taken, and featured a number of tracks from Psyence Fiction, remixed in an ambient style.
Richard File co-produced, played and sang on the second album, Never, Never, Land, released in 2003. The album again featured a number of high-profile contributors, including Ian Brown, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Robert Del Naja (Massive Attack) and Mani (The Stone Roses, Primal Scream) among others. Due in part to label changes (the album was variously released by Mo' Wax, Universal Island Records and Global Underground) and Lavelle's trademark insistence on multiple formats, it was not a major success.
Lavelle and File continued releasing mixes as Unklesounds. The mix album Edit Music for a Film: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Reconstruction, featuring movie samples and tracks from film soundtracks, was created for the After Dark 2004 event at the ICA London. A single CD version was handed out at the event, and it was released officially as an extended two disc set in 2005.
In September 2006, Global Underground released Self Defence: Never, Never, Land Reconstructed and Bonus Beats, a CD box set of remixes and bonus tracks from the Never, Never, Land sessions, including tracks previously only available on the original DVD release of the album. It also contained remixes of a track mooted for their next album, featuring Ian Astbury of The Cult, titled "Burn My Shadow".
War Stories, the third album from Unkle, was released in summer 2007. The album again featured a number of guests including Josh Homme, Gavin Clarke, Robert Del Naja, Ian Astbury, The Duke Spirit, Autolux and Neil Davidge. Following the release of the single "Hold My Hand", Pablo Clements (of The Psychonauts) became an Unkle member.
Fourth incarnation (2008 - Present)
In January 2008 Unkle released More Stories, containing a mix of B-sides, remixes, unreleased War Stories session tracks, and music composed for the film Odyssey In Rome. The same month, Richard File announced he was leaving Unkle after 10 years' collaboration to pursue work with his new band, We Fell to Earth.
In March the Lazarides Gallery in London showcased War Paint, an exhibition of artworks inspired by the recent Unkle album War Stories, with works from Robert Del Naja, Warren du Preez, Nick Thornton Jones, William Bankhead and Ben Drury.
Unkle began touring the UK with Zoot Woman and Sebastian and Mr. Flash from Ed Banger Records. The concert, set across four acts, featured live performances from past Unkle contributors including Badly Drawn Boy, Leila Moss from The Duke Spirit, Gavin Clark and Joel Cadbury from South.
Unkle's fourth full album titled End Titles... Stories for Film was released in July 2008. It includes collaborations from Chris Goss, Black Mountain, Philip Sheppard, Dave Bateman, Joel Cadbury, and James Petralli (White Denim). The album is described in the sleeve notes by Lavelle as "not a new album in the usual sense, but new music that has been inspired by the moving image." As such, it can be considered a companion piece both to War Stories but also to the earlier Unklesounds mix, Edit Music for a Film.
|| 15 (AUS)
||Gold (UK) |
||Never, Never, Land
|| 24 (UK), 57 (IRE), 82 (FRA)
||Self Defence: Never, Never, Land Reconstructed and Bonus Beats (4 Disc Box Set)
|| 58 (UK), 66 (IRE), 84 (FRA), 50 (BEL), 58 (CH), 99 (GER)
||More Stories (B-Sides Compilation)
||End Titles... Stories for Film
|| 70 (UK) |
Singles and EPs
- "The Time Has Come EP" (1994)
- "Ape Shall Never Kill Ape (ft. Nigo)" (1997)
- "Berry Meditation" (1996)
- "Rock On" (1996)
- "Last Orgy 3" (1998)
- "Guns Blazing" (ft. Kool G Rap) (1998) promo only
- "Rabbit In Your Headlights" (ft. Thom Yorke) (1998)
- "Be There" (ft. Ian Brown) (1999) UK #8
- "Narco Tourist" (with Slam) UK #66
- "Cocaine & Camcorders" (2001) promo only
- "Eye For An Eye" (2003) UK #31
- "In A State" (2003) UK #44
- "Reign" (ft. Ian Brown) (2004) UK #40, US Hot Dance Singles Sales #14
- "Nights Temper EP" (2007) limited release
- "Burn My Shadow (ft. Ian Astbury)" (2007) UK #112
- "Hold My Hand" (2007)
- "Restless" (2008)
- "Remix Stories Vol. 1" (2008)
- "Vibe P.M." (Stranger Things Have Happened - Brazil on a Jimmy Hill mix) for Mondo Grosso, on Marble (99 Records 1993)
- "Bellbottoms" (Old Rascal mix) for Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, on Experimental Remixes (Matador 1995)
- "Planet Telex" (Karma Sunra mix) for Radiohead, on "Just" (Parlophone 1995)
- "Karmacoma" (Unkle Situation) for Massive Attack, on "Karmacoma" (Wild Bunch 1995)
- "Shounen" (Unkle's remix) for Geisha Girls, on ''The Geisha "Remix" Girls Show (For Life 1995)
- "DJed" (Bruise Blood mix) for Tortoise, on "DJed" (City Slang 1996)
- "Natural One" (Unkle mix), (Instrumental mix) and (Unkle No Skratch mix) for Folk Implosion, on "Natural One" (London 1996)
- "Pepper" (Short Shot mix) for the Butthole Surfers, on "Pepper" (promo) (Capitol 1996)
- "Where It's At" (Unkle remix) for Beck, on "Where It's At" (Geffen 1996)
- "Agent Dan" (Unkle remix) for Agent Provocateur, on "Agent Dan" (Epic 1997)
- "New Walk" (Unkle remix) for Liquid Liquid, on "Cavern" (Mo' Wax 1997)
- "Vitamin C" (Unkle mix) for Can, on Sacrilege (Mute 1997)
- "Li303ve" (Suzuki Dekard San) for Buffalo Daughter, on Socks, Drugs and Rock and Roll (Grand Royal 1997)
- "Free Fall" (remix by Unkle) for Cornelius, on FM - Fantasma Remixes (Trittoria 1998)
- "Nishiehigashie" (West Remix) for Mr. Children, on "Nishiehigashie" (Toy's Factory 1998)
- "People are Strange" (Unkle mix) for Stina Nordenstam, on "People are Strange" (EastWest 1998)
- "Bullitproof" (Unkle remix) for Breakbeat Era, on "Bullitproof" (XL 1999)
- "Dolphins Were Monkeys" (Unkle vs. South remix) for Ian Brown, on Golden Greats (Interscope 1999)
- "Battle" (Unkle remix) for Blur, on "No Distance Left to Run" (Food 1999)
- "Overused" (Unkle remix) for South, on Overused (Toy's Factory 1999)
- "Leaders and Believers" (Unkle remix) for Emperor's New Clothes, on the compilation The New Testament of Funk (Unique 1999)
- "The World is Not Enough" (Unkle remix) for Garbage, on "The World is Not Enough" (MCA 1999)
- "Over My Head" (Unkle mix) and (Unkle Instrumental) for Furslide, on "Over My Head" (UK 12" Promo) (Virgin 1999)
- "Without You I'm Nothing" (Unkle remix) for Placebo (feat. David Bowie), on "Without You I'm Nothing" (single) (Virgin 1999)
- "Paint the Silence" (Unkle Variation) for South, on "Paint the Silence" (Mo' Wax 2000)
- "Hey Jack" (Unkle Metamorphosis mix) for Howie B., on Folk. (Polydor 2001)
- "I'm Not Trading" (Unkle - In Utero) and (In Utero Instrumental) for Sunna, on "I'm Not Trading" (Melankolic 2001)
- "Narco Tourists" (Unkle remix) for Slam, on Alien Radio Remixed (Soma 2002)
- "F.E.A.R." (Unkle mix) and (Unkle Instrumental) for Ian Brown, on Remixes of the Spheres (Polydor 2002)
- "GDMFSOB" (Unkle Uncensored feat Roots Manuva) for DJ Shadow, on The Private Press (Tour Edition) and The Private Repress (Universal 2002)
- "Frantic" (Unkle remix) for Metallica, on "Frantic" (Vertigo 2003)
- "No One Knows" (Unkle Reconstruction) for Queens of the Stone Age, on "Go with the Flow" and "No One Knows" (Unkle Reconstructions) (Interscope 2003)
- "Colours In Waves" (Unkle Reconstruction) for South, on "Colours In Waves" (Sanctuary Records 2003)
- "The Incredibles Theme" (Unkle Reconstruction) for Michael Giacchino, on The Incredibles - The Remix EP (Walt Disney 2004)
- "Time is My Everything" (Unkle Reconstruction) for Ian Brown, on "Time Is My Everything" (Polydor UK 2005)
- "Cast No Shadow" (Unkle Beachhead mix) for Oasis, on Goal!: Music from the Motion Picture (Big Brother 2005)
- "Burn the Witch" (Unkle Variation) for Queens of the Stone Age, on Saw II: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Image 2005)
- "The Enchanter" (Unkle Reconstruction) and (Unkle Reconstruction Dub) for Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation, on "The Enchanter" (Unkle Reconstruction) (Sanctuary 2005)
- "False Flags" (Unkle Surrender Sounds Session #2) for Massive Attack, on "False Flags" (promo) (Virgin 2006)
- "John the Revelator" (Unkle Reconstruction) for Depeche Mode, on "John the Revelator / Lilian" (Mute 2006)
- "Today" (Unkle vs. Mode Showdown remix) for Junkie XL, on "Today" (Ultra 2006)
- "Life2Live" (Unkle Surrender Sounds Session #1) for Layo & Bushwacka, on "Lfe2Live / Feels Closer (Remixes) 12"" (Olmeto 2006)
- "No Hits" (Unkle Surrender Sounds Session #3) for Black Mountain (band), on "Introducing... (Selected Works) 2CD Promo" (Surrender All 2006)
- "Turnstile Blues" (Unkle Surrender Sounds Session #4) for Autolux, on "More Stories (Selected Works) CD" (Traffic Inc Japan 2008)
- "Beethoven's 9th Symphony" (Unkle Remix) for BMW, UK Commercial (2007)
- "I Feel Speed" (Unkle Remix) for Dubfire, on "I Feel Speed" (SCI TEC Digital Audio Download 2007)
- "I'm Designer" (Unkle Remix) for Queens of the Stone Age, on German Tour Edition of the album "Era Vulgaris (album)" (2008)
- "The Step & The Walk" (Rich File Remix) for The Duke Spirit, on CD Single release of "The Step & The Walk"
- "The X-Files Theme (Unkle Variation on a Theme Surrender Sounds Session #10)" for Mark Snow, remixed for the movie The X-Files: I Want to Believe in 2008
- "Lonely Soul" was featured in a trailer for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game Assassin's Creed in 2007.
- "Lonely Soul" was also featured on the soundtrack to the 2000 film adaptation of Alex Garland's The Beach.
- "Chemistry" from the album War Stories has featured in BBC One trailers for Spooks Series 6. "Keys to the Kingdom", from the same album, featured on BBC Two trailers for Heroes Season 1.
- The Football Federation of Australia agreed with Unkle to use "Reign" in their promotional campaign for the 2007-2008 Hyundai A-League season under the tagline of "90 Minutes 90 Emotions".
- The UNKLE Album War Stories was featured on the BBC's car show Top Gear in Season 10.
- The songs "Keys to the Kingdom" and "Restless" both appeared on Five adverts to promote the new seasons of CSI: NY and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
- "Eye For An Eye" was featured in Made Man, a computer game for PC & Sony PS2.
- "Eye For An Eye" was featured on the Channel Five advert for Prison Break.
- "Burn My Shadow" was in the CSI: NY episode 414 "Playing with Matches"
- "Safe in Mind (Please take this gun from out my face)" was in the Teddy Bears Picnic Lucozade ad.
- "Restless" featuring Josh Homme was used as an EA Track in Need For Speed ProStreet in 2007.
- "May Day" featuring The Duke Spirit was used in the new GTA IV in 2008
- "Hold My Hand" was used as soundtrack in Robert Luketics 2008 movie 21
- "Chemistry", and several other Unkle songs, were featured in Alistair Lee's Climbing film Psyche
- Unkle's remix of Queens of the Stoneage's "No One Knows" is featured in the opening cinematic of the new video game "Grid"
- Nike Skateboarding (Nike SB) collaborated with Unkle to create the Unkle High Top SB
- An Unkle remix of Mozart's Symphony No. 41 was used as the BBC's theme for the Euro 2008 football tournament, beginning on June 7 2008.
- 2008 Unkle Live - UK Tour Stories