Scattershot:Denoting something that is broad but random and haphazard in its range.
UNKLE’s Psyence Fiction is an odd one to pin down to write about.
It is, essentially a group of musicians playing together over the orchestrations of James Lavelle and DJ Shadow.
Typically, I tend to veer far from reviewing songs as individual pieces but that might be necessary to describe this record.
“Guns Blazing (Drums of Death Part 1)”
After a brief, spacey intro we are bludgeoned on the head by this trip hop track featuring Kool G Rap on vocals.
It is a great way to start the album.
The percussion is heavy and the bass lead synths are among Shadow’s best.
“UNKLE Main Theme”
A psychedelic instrumental excursion. The leading riff is intoxicating and could easily put someone into a coma. A weapon of mass destruction.
Alice Temple really shines here.
It is a shame that she failed to produce anything this breathtaking post UNKLE.
Her vocals are absolutely brilliant but the music is a bit too fragmented. The bass is a tad too overwhelming and doesn’t gel with her wispy voice.
Another instrumental in the same vein as the “Main Theme.”
Equally as enthralling and groovy as all get out.
Richard Ashcroft is the star of this orchestral piece.
Hopefully some money was made from this tune as we know The Verve made little from their biggest hit due to a copyright lawsuit.
Brilliant, beautiful and captivating.
“Getting Ahead In The Lucrative Field Of Artist Management”
An odd little vocal skit.
A bizarre pop rock tune sung by Badly Drawn Boy.
It does absolutely nothing for me and stands out like a sore thumb.
Somehow the two hip hop/rap songs coexist more fluently than this piece.
It is harmlessly mediocre.
A typical guitar based rock song.
Now we’re talkin’!
Here we have an instrumental track so layered and brilliant that it could have been placed on an early DJ Shadow solo album.
The keyboards are reminiscent of 80s action film soundtracks and the background drones are ambient perfection.
“The Knock (Drums Of Death Part 2”
Mike D stars on this track and as such, it sounds like a beastie boys song. Jason Newstead makes an appearance on bass. I must say, it is nice to hear him play along to a drum track that can keep proper time. The breakdown in the middle of the song is very reminiscent of DJ Shadow’s earlier work. Particularly, The Private Press.
Atlantique Khan drives this beautiful little piece.
It is quietly haunting and surreal.
“Rabbit In Your Headlights”
Thom Yorke of Radiohead leads this song.
So, it sounds like Radiohead.
The music video is highly recommended.
Musically, it is overlong and a bit simple.
It isn’t a bad track but it doesn’t do anything different. If you have heard OK Computer, you will be underwhelmed by this.
Overall, Psyence Fiction is one of the best compilation albums I’ve heard.
That isn’t crediting it too much.
Albums such as this don’t do anything for me.
They are too fragmented to get invested in.
The sounds and themes are constantly changing and it becomes difficult to ground yourself long enough to become captivated.
Lavelle brings some pop sensibilities to Shadow’s turntables on this record.
Unfortunately, the vocals seem distant and detached.
There are elements of greatness here but, perhaps the focus should have been on allowing the musicians to play in the same room as the singers.
Perhaps they did and I’m just talking out my ass.
It doesn’t sound like it though.
A lot of the songs have zero chemistry between the musicianship and the vocals.
I give a cautious recommendation.
If you’re a fan of DJ Shadow’s early work, you won’t be disappointed.
Guns Blazing (Drums Of Death Part 1)
UNKLE (Main Title Theme)
Getting Ahead In The Lucrative Field Of Artist Management
The Knock (Drums Of Death Part 2)
Rabbit In Your Headlights