After four years, Mo Wax Records founder and super-producer James Lavelle returns with partner Richard File as UNKLE to deliver their latest release, “War Stories,” an album that is quite a departure from UNKLE’s previous albums, the DJ Shadow-helmed “Psyence Fiction,” and “Never, Never, Land.” With live musicians instead of samplers, “War Stories” is more rock-influenced.
“I just wanted to do something different.” Lavelle explains. “Something that was more guitar-oriented that we could perform live. I wouldn’t call it a rock record though.”
To create “War Stories,” Lavelle recruited producer Chris Gross (Queens of the Stone Age) as well as collaborators Josh Homme, also of Queens of the Stone Age, Ian Astbury of the Cult, The Duke Spirit, 3D of Massive Attack and many others. Lavelle himself also comes out from behind the mixing board to contribute vocals to two tracks, “Hold My Hand” and “Morning Rage.”
Even though the list of guests is comprised of mostly rock’s elite, “War Stories” is very much an electronic album. “It’s still got the 808 in there,” Lavelle says. And 808 isn’t the only thing. There are plenty of synths, loops and electronics lavishly layered throughout.
As for what audiences can expect for the live show, “It’s pretty intense; very aggressive,” Lavelle says, explaining that there will be a full band, DJ, loops and visuals. UNKLE has already showcased its live performance to audiences in Europe to rave reviews and, with only six stops in the U.S., it’s recommended that any fans within the vicinity of Chicago should be in attendance.
Besides being the latest release, “War Stories” also marks the debut for Lavelle’s new label Surrender All, which, like Mo Wax, is sure to become home to innovative and exciting artists. But, for right now, Lavelle says he’s just focusing on UNKLE at the moment. It’s a safe bet though, that Lavelle, always the originator, has some tricks up his sleeve, and Surrender All is definitely something to keep an eye on. (Zeb Resman)
UNKLE performs with Dosh, plus DJ sets from Chris Widman & Luke Stokes, at Metro, 3430 North Clark, (773)549-0203, on October 20, at 8pm. $17 advance tickets, $19 day of.