1998, Music

Psyence Fiction (1998) by UNKLE

I know next to nothing about ’90s electronica or the individual scenes at the time. So it is a shock to me at how this weird, all star album exists. Because this is some kind of line-up of guest vocalists for a group that, as far as I can figure out, had released a single remix prior to this record. I guess the guy behind it had his own label and that’s how he got these people. Anyway…
This feels like survey of UK trip hop and “downtempo.” Stylistically, it is rather all over the place, for the genre, both in the tracks themselves and, especially, with the vocal contributions.

It’s certainly an inconsistent record, stylistically but, for me, it mostly works. This is a genre I generally like and I find this large number of takes on it to be appealing because of how diverse it is. There’s a little something for everyone and that means that it’s both a little short on the stuff I really like within the genre and the stuff I don’t (the stuff that skews closer to hip hop). Frankly I’d rather have this diversity than someone that sets out to make a record with one vibe.

But the record is pretty horribly dated to 1998. Records like this really are the sound of 1998 for good or ill. The drum samples in particular are just sooooooooo ’90s.

Still, this is a record I’m fine to put on in the background.


PS I love the last song title.

  1. “Guns Blazing (Drums of Death Part 1)” (Josh Davis, Nathaniel Wilson) 5:01
  2. “UNKLE Main Title Theme” (Davis) 3:24
  3. “Bloodstain” (Davis, Alice Temple) 5:57
  4. “Unreal” (Davis, Jules Blattner) 5:10
  5. “Lonely Soul” (Davis, Richard Ashcroft, Wil Malone) 8:56
  6. “Getting Ahead in the Lucrative Field of Artist Management” 0:56
  7. “Nursery Rhyme / Breather” (Davis, Damon Gough) 4:45
  8. “Celestial Annihilation” (Davis, Malone) 4:44
  9. “The Knock (Drums of Death Part 2)” (Davis, Michael Diamond) 3:58
  10. “Chaos” (Atlantique Khanh) 4:42
  11. “Rabbit in Your Headlights” (Davis, Thom Yorke) 6:20
  12. “Outro (Mandatory)” 1:06

  • DJ Shadow – music, scratching, engineering
  • James Lavelle – engineering, breathing on “Nursery Rhyme / Breather”

Additional Musicians

  • Kool G Rap – vocals on “Guns Blazing (Drums of Death Part 1)”
  • Alice Temple – vocals on “Bloodstain”
  • Richard Ashcroft – vocals on “Lonely Soul”
  • Badly Drawn Boy – vocals on “Nursery Rhyme / Breather”
  • Mike D – vocals on “The Knock (Drums of Death Part 2)”
  • Atlantique – vocals and music on “Chaos”
  • Thom Yorke – vocals on “Rabbit in Your Headlights”
  • Ian Brown – vocals on “Be There”
  • Lateef the Truth Speaker – additional vocals on “Guns Blazing (Drums of Death Part 1)”
  • Lyrics Born – additional vocals on “Guns Blazing (Drums of Death Part 1)”
  • Wil Malone – string arrangements and conducting on “Lonely Soul” and “Celestial Annihilation”
  • London Session Orchestra – strings on “Lonely Soul” and “Celestial Annihilation”
  • Jason Newsted – bass and theremin on “The Knock (Drums of Death Part 2)”
  • Mark Hollis – piano on “Chaos”

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