Unkle have long been at the forefront of the electronic music genre. From their dark orchestral and trip/hip hop origins of the groundbreaking ‘ Psyence Fiction’ through to the epic electronica scores of ‘Never Never Land’ and heavy bass laden guitars of ‘War Stories’ James Lavelle’s outfit has never missed a beat. Always astounding it’s legions of fans with it’s versatility accompanied by a stunning visual presence. The band utilising artwork by Futura 2000 and later 3D of Massive Attack who designed their dark toned cover to War Stories. Lavelle has always been at the centre of Unkle with the likes of DJ Shadow, Richard File and Tim Goldsworthy all appearing as co-producers. Not to mention a wealth of other notable contributors over the years including the likes of Badly Drawn Boy, Ian Brown, Josh Homme, Ian Astbury, Robert Del Naja and Mike D of the Beastie Boys to name a few.
But it’s fair to say things have been quiet with Unkle for the past couple of years, so when news emerged of Lavelle’s curation of the Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick Exhibition at Somerset House it’s fair to say we were greatly intrigued. Let alone the fact it was accompanied by an announcement of an Unkle Redux event at the legendary venue. Being well aware the redux performances have gone down as some of the most acclaimed live events utilising orchestral strings and electronica. This was going to be an evening we wouldn’t dare miss.
The redux event itself is billed as a unique audio visual show, linking in with the Stanley Kubrick exhibition. This undoubtedly was going to be an intriguing aspect but it’s fair to say any doubts were swiftly blown away. Lavelle’s appreciation of Kubrick is clear and the syncing of classic Unkle tracks with grand projected visuals of some of Kubrick’s most revered films such as A Clockwork Orange and The Shining fits stunningly. This is never more evident with the incredible ‘Reign’ bass heavy climax, back dropped against Danny from the Shining pursued through the frozen maze of the Overlook Hotel. Alongside the heavy guitar loops of ‘Restless’ panning out from the cruel sneer of Alex from a Clockwork Orange sipping milk. It’s absolutely mesmerizing and shows just how much work has gone into this performance. Also it’s particularly intriguing to see the video created for the Kubrick exhibition starring Joanna Lumley set against ‘Lonely Soul’ (Not Lonely Days as a leading press outlet reported). Something phenomenally unique and certainly set’s it apart.
Most importantly the performance is sublime. Jocelyn Pook offers a worthy support. But Unkle are on top form as always, guest singers including Eska and Liela Moss perfectly carry off renditions of classic tracks. The live orchestral element is stunning too, with a phenomenally tight string section which perfectly sits against the electronic beats of classics such as ‘An Eye for an Eye’ It’s also wonderfully touching to see the band paying tribute to their late collaborator, the amazing Gavin Clarke. We were a little gutted to see ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ missed from the playlist, but with such a great array of classic tracks on offer, there’s no room for complaints.
Somerset House has hosted some incredible events over the years, and never was a venue seemed so perfectly suited to the music on offer. The elegant strings and electronic beats of Unkle seem perfectly apt in the majestic surroundings of the purple lit courtyard of Somerset House sat amidst the chaotic Embankment.
With Lavelle’s mention of an upcoming new Unkle album and a preview of their new track ‘Cowboys or Indians’ going down astoundingly well, it’s fair to say we’re desperate to hear more. A world with more Unkle is surely a much better place
Keep up to date with Somerset House’s upcoming events at:
Catch the Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick Event