Review: Jack Foley
DJ SHADOW may have departed from the Unkle line-up, having sworn
never to work with them again after 1999's Psyence Fiction,
but anyone fearing the worst had better think again.
For James Lavelle has recruited the help of Richard File and
produced an album of shimmering brilliance, that easily surpasses
the previous effort in terms of all-round quality.
Whereas Psyence Fiction produced only fleeting moments
of brilliance (such as the Ian Brown, Thom Yorke and Richard Ashcroft
collaborations), Never, Never Land is an altogether different
affair; an album which works as a collective whole, and which
forces you to think about your place in the world, while wrapping
you up in its mesmerising beats.
But then what else can you expect from a long-player which begins
with the following monologue: "Your whole life is changes;
you go through changes in your life; one second you've got it
made, the next second you're done in the dumps; and it goes back
and forth throughout your whole life; one second, you got the
most beautiful girl in the world, next second you don't even have
a girlfriend no more... And this is life, it's changes, this is
what you've got to go through, throughout your whole lifetime."
The passage possesses that haunting element of truth that makes
you put your own life in perspective, pausing only for a few brief
seconds, before declaring that 'even now in heaven, there were
angels carrying savage weapons' and propelling you, head first,
into the musical rollercoaster which follows.
Make no mistake, this is a thrill-ride of an album; full of tough,
moody beats one minute, and subtle, acoustic guitars and strings
the next, while being punctuated by some really great collaborations.
Former single, Eye for an Eye, is all about the beats,
a sprawling, even epic track, that screams defiance (especially
in its nods to the world situation, today), before nicely giving
way to the spine-tingling piano lead-in of In A State,
and the driving bass of Mani.
Another feature, this time out, is the added dimension of File's
vocals, which possess a South feel about them, especially during
the stand-out track, What Are You To Me?, which really
does appeal to the hairs on the back of your neck.
It means that Never, Never Land feels like a well thought-through
project, rather than an indulgence, even though some may lament
the lack of the Shadow influence.
Of the collaborations this time out, every one makes a mark,
be it Josh Homme's haunting turn on Safe In Mind, which
incorporates the same frenetic beat employed by Unkle on their
recent Sunna remix, or Ian Brown's equally brilliant return, for
South's Joel Cadbury crops up on the dream-like Glow,
during which the acoustics and strings take prominence over the
barely audible beat, while 3D provides a touch of class to
If anything, this album feels more diverse, more willing to extend
its range, than Psyence Fiction, and much less of an experimental
There is very little on it that doesn't work; no tracks which
have you reaching for the skip button.
Never, Never Land is that rare commodity in modern music;
an album that refuses to sound old, no matter how many times you
have it on repeat play.
It will have you hooked from the start and you won't want it
1. Back & Forth
2. Eye for An Eye
3. In A State
4. Safe In Mind (featuring Josh Homme)
5. I Need Something Stronger
6. What Are Yot To Me?
7. Panic Attack
8. Invasion (featuring 3D)
9. Reign (featuring Ian Brown)
10. Glow (featuring Joel Cadbury of South)
12. Awake the Unkind