In preparation for the release of UNKLE’s sixth album, The Road Part 1, we chatted with James Lavelle about the musical inspirations behind the exciting cinematic twists and turns that drive UNKLE’s work. Like UNKLE’s incredibly eclectic catalogue, Lavelle’s playlist is entrenched in British trip hop and rock with a valiant helping of bold music samplings that ultimately pay off. Check out the playlist with Lavelle’s commentary below, and be sure to grab a copy of The Road Part 1, available August 18th.
1. Led Zeppelin – The Rain Song
From this song to “A Whole Lotta Love,” John Paul Jones’ arrangements were a big inspiration on tracks like “The Road” and “Nowhere to Run,” and of course John Bonham’s drums are a huge presence in sample culture.
2. The Young Disciples – Freedom Suite
Taken from their incredibly underrated album, The Road To Freedom. This album was a huge influence for their arrangements and how tracks moved and featured multiple artists and takes me back to my original roots which was a key factor in the album.
3. The Sindecut – Simple Jealousy
Again going back to my sound system roots, this track and album were the sound of my youth and, like the Young Disciples, a lost classic–I like the rawness of the production and the multiple guests.
4. Massive attack – Blue Lines
The title track from their debut classic album, a blue print for Mo’ Wax and UNKLE–wanted to go back to that period especially working with MINK, Elliott Power, ESKA and Ysee. I wanted to reflect that lazy, collaborative British hip hop sound which was a soundtrack to my early years as a teenager and made me want to make records, and of course “Unfinished Symphony” was a major influence too, a record that changed my life! (Will Malone who scored this track also worked on the album).
5. Moby – God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters
Taken from Michael Mann’s closing credits of Heat–I love the string arrangements on this track and the fact it’s electronic. I love the sound of the production as well as artists like Underworld and Carl Craig and Detroit techno and dance music in general–club music is in my veins!!
6.The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows
Probably the first ever sample collage record in modern music history. The Beatles were a big inspiration as they pushed things forward, George Martins arrangements and the soul of George Harrison also have a big impact on this album.
7. Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place
Radiohead have always been a huge inspiration, how they push the bar of classic song structure with modern technology. Kid A and Amnesiac and In Rainbows were big references in the new album.
8.The Electric Prunes – Holy Are You
Their harmonies and chorus arrangements were an inspiration. David Axelrod’s production was a massive part of my musical life, the drums and bass and space. A big ref on tracks like “Farewell.”
9. Dennis Wilson – River Song
A guilty pleasure of arrangements – pacific blue is an amazing album. I love the layers and emotion of the recordings.
10. Pink Floyd- The Dark Side of the Moon
I love the soul of this track and the way the album works as a journey – I wanted to create a cinematic experience.
11.Wendy Carlos- Synthesized 9th movement
I wanted to fuse electronic production with classical music and push the boundaries, coming from an upbringing of techno and symphony and my love of Stanley Kubrick.