REVIEW – GU041 Naples : The man from UNKLE has delivered a monster!

Artist : Various / James Lavelle
Title : GU041 – Naples
Label : Global Underground
Release : Out Now
Genre : UNKLESounds

We were so glad to see Global Underground return to the CD market with their excellent Cities series last year. Solomon’s encapsulation of Hamburg was brilliant, but that was 12 months ago.

The wait, however, has been most definitely worth it as they release GU041 – Naples, mixed by the incredibly talented James Lavelle in his UNKLE Sounds guise. The GU ‘Cities’ series was the first to put DJs on album covers and helped propel many of those featured to international acclaim. Global Underground were also the first by visiting worldwide destinations and putting a spotlight on their nascent club scenes, at a time when international dance music was pocketed across a handful of territories. In their own special way, they helped define electronic music culture from the mid 1990s onwards and symbolised the explosion of international dance music. Featuring beautifully shot photography and extensive sleeve notes written by the very talented Dom Phillips, the album releases have become collectors’ items, with many currently exchanged for significant sums online.

“GU has always done things differently – it’s what we do and what we’ve built the label’s reputation upon. Amazing timeless mixes by the world’s best DJs is a given, but we’ve always put a huge amount of time and effort into the album series with stunning photography and extensive sleeve notes  – that’s why they’ve become so collectable, with previous Limited Editions now selling for a premium online.” – Andy Horsfield

Now I know you may have your doubts, Lavelle’s last two mixes were…interesting. This however, strides very confidently toward the ground Sasha broke with his Involver series. Gone is the typical one track after another standard DJ mix – frankly, we can stream or download those all day long. For this mix, Lavelle has reinterpreted almost all of the album tracks, having taken the original parts into the studio and remixed and re-edited them into exclusive versions for this release. Alongside new UNKLE material, the album features Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Lana Del Rey, Luciano, Ian Brown, Queens of the Stone Age, Elliott Power, and Mark Lanegan Band through to London Grammar, Planet Funk and more. The journey you go on with this album is sublime. Its very much one of those close your eyes and drift away kinda vibes from the off. Lavelle curates the music with such a deft touch too, moving between disparate artists like Rock gods Queens of the Stone Age and UK hip hop artist Elliot Power. There’s a familiarity to the mix as a whole; a sonic comforter blanket that Lavelle wraps you in.

“What he has made is a remarkable mix that goes up and down and backwards and forwards. Fast and then slow. It has song after song. There are voices everywhere …..” – Dom Phillips

Disc 2 kicks off where the meandering journey of disc 1 ended. On a high. Lana Del Ray’s voice angelic in reverberation against the background of deep melodic loveliness fills me with joy. This is Lavelle in full flow, best to find a space on the dance floor and dance your asses off! And then after about 20 minutes, a drop into a beautiful piano led version of Reign. Blissful, and brave, because he’d built up quite the head of steam. Any DJ who can do that deserves your respect, because its inclusion provides a tension on the floor any number of processed riser samples fail to do. It gives you an expectation, a hope. You’re hanging on his every word and you don’t care that Lavelle has you in the palm of his hand. Its a great place to be. And like any good DJ, he rewards the crowd for their patience with a volley of heavy beats to satisfy even the hungriest souls. The lead out to the CD is filled with deeper, elegantly constructed cuts designed to create waves of visual imagery in the minds of the hypnotised crowd. Trippy and emotive, the best is most definitely saved for last with a complete reworking of ‘In a State’ sung by Leila Moss from Alt Rock band The Duke Spirit. Its not only UNKLE’s best track, but with the addition of Moss’ winsome vocals it adds a fragility to it that the previous versions lacked. I actually cried a bit when the last piano note rang out and the crowd cheered. It was like I was there and had been on the journey with them.

For all thats good and wholesome in this world, you should really stop reading now, and go buy this album. In 10 years, when you look back, you’ll thank me. Its a fucking marvel.

CD1
01 UNKLE – Erebus feat. Michèle Lamy and Emilíana Torrini
02 UNKLE – Eye For An Eye
03 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – AKA… What A Life! (UNKLE Rework)
04 Queens Of The Stone Age – I Appear Missing (UNKLE Remix)
05 Mark Lanegan Band – The Killing Season (UNKLE Remix)
06 Elliott Power – Sword Souls (UNKLE Remix)
07 Jamie Woon – Lady Luck
08 HÆLOS – Dust (UNKLE Remix)
09 UNKLE – Bloodstain feat. Alice Temple
10 Therr Maitz – Feeling Good Tonight (UNKLE Reconstruction)
11 London Grammar – Hey Now (UNKLE Remix)
12 Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork (UNKLE Remix)
13 UNKLE – Touch Me feat. Liela Moss
14 UNKLE – Rabbit In Your Headlights

CD2
01 Lana Del Rey – Ride (James Lavelle Remix – Lyla’s Surprise)
02 The Naked And Famous – The Sun
03 ESKA – This Is How A Garden Grows (UNKLE Reconstruction)
04 Elliott Power – On The Windrush (UNKLE Reconstruction)
05 UNKLE – The Answer feat. Big In Japan (Baltimore) (Trentemøller Remix)
06 UNKLE – Reign feat. Ian Brown
07 Queens Of The Stone Age – No One Knows
08 UNKLE – Money and Run feat. Nick Cave (16 Bit Lolitas Remix)
09 UNKLE – With You In My Head feat. Liela Moss (UNKLE/Redux Reconstruction)
UNKLE – Follow Me Down feat. Sleepy Sun
UNKLE – Heavy Drug
10 Four Tet – Angel Echoes (Caribou Remix)
11 Jagwar Ma – Come Save Me (The Pachanga Boys’ Jagwar Pawar Version)
12 Luciano – Rise Of Angel
13 UNKLE – Burn My Shadow feat. Ian Astbury
14 UNKLE – Heaven (Charlie May Remix)
15 Planet Funk – Two Lost Souls (UNKLE Remix)
16 UNKLE – In A State feat. Liela Moss (UNKLE/Redux Reconstruction)