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Psyence Fiction

115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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This ambitious effort shows Mo' Wax label guru James Lavelle taking on the role of director, orchestrating a grand design, and translating it musically with the talents of studio muse DJ Shadow. Most accustomed to working solo, Shadow demonstrates here his adaptable talents in collaborating with others, whether it's on the powerful "Rabbit in Your Headlights," a track recorded in 1996 in which Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke eerily foreshadows his later success, or in "Guns Blazing (Drums of Death Pt. 1)," the album's only traditional hip-hop track, which pairs annihilating beats to Kool G Rap's equally lethal vocal delivery. Psyence Fiction, which also features contributions from Beastie Boy Mike D and the Verve's Richard Ashcroft, is certainly one of the most epic and eclectic records to emerge from the electronic world this year, one that should not only further the efforts to bridge the musical segregation that exists among the hip-hop, alternative, and electronic camps but also introduce these cultures to a few new surprises of its own. --Tamara Palmer

Review

...[A] surreal, melancholy art film that exists in Shadow's and Lavelle's heads. -- Entertainment Weekly

Psyence Fiction is produced by Shadow and dreamed by James Lavelle. And the Kool G Rap Joint is worth your fucking riches. Bold by the pound, it'll drop tap and rewire your jaw. -- URB

The music escapes the confines of disco wallpaper, thanks to such distinguished guest singers as Radiohead's Thom Yorke, who brings a human heartbeat to the growling rhythms and cold piano of "Rabbit in the Headlights." -- USA Today

The prevailing air of Psyence Fiction is one of clumsy compromise rather than mutual inspiration. Overwhelmingly, there's the feeling that DJ Shadow--who builds almost all the music here--is uncomfortable in his role as collaborator.... -- New Musical Express

UNKLE use a mixture of samples and real musicians to build their fuzzy analog tableaux, giving this ad hoc collective considerable style-flexing muscle. -- Vibe

[James Lavelle and DJ Shadow's] first full-length collaboration, Psyence Fiction resembles a funked-up version of This Mortal Ciol, the 4AD house band fond of keeping it sur-real with spooky Goth grooves and drama-queen vocal excess. -- Spin


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Guns Blazing (Drums Of Death Pt. 1) [feat. Kool G Rap] 5:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. U.N.K.L.E. Main Title Theme 3:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Bloodstain [feat. Alice Temple] 5:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Unreal 5:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Lonely Soul [feat. Richard Ashcroft] 8:56$1.29  Buy MP3 
  6. Getting Ahead In The Lucrative Field Of Artist Management0:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Nursery Rhyme/ Breather [feat. Badly Drawn Boy] 4:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Celestial Annihilation 4:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. The Knock (Drums Of Death Pt. 2) [feat. Mike D.] 3:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Chaos [feat. Atlantique] 4:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Rabbit In Your Headlights [feat. Thom Yorke] 6:20$0.69  Buy MP3 
12. Outro (Mandatory) 1:06$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 29, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: September 29, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: INgrooves Fontana/London
  • ASIN: B00000AFK4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,685 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 1999
Format: Audio CD
DJ Shadow's influence over this disc is evident with the innovative breaks that underlie every track. However, apart from the expected imagination here, what was a complete surprise was the wide variety of genres explored. From start to finish, the whole affair is completely unrpedictable, ranging from typical Shadow-style mellow grooves, to more classical ballads, to even some speed metal (! ). Consequently, this album is not as immediately accessible as some of Josh's other releases and may require a few listens to open up fully. Nevertheless, due primarily to the creativity of the beats, the album doesn't lose its focus and remains a consistent and comfortable listen throughout from the very first sitting. Believe the hype - this was one of 1998's best and most innovative releases. A must have for all DJ Shadow fans.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Manny Hernandez HALL OF FAME on March 15, 2004
Format: Audio CD
What happens when alt-rock and Joe Satriani ("Unkle Main Title Theme") meet Massive Attack ("Blood Stain", "Unreal"), Craig Armstrong ("Celestial Annihilation"), and you pour a little straight-up Public Enemy-like hip-hop into the mix? Sounds like science fiction? Fatboy Slim, you say? Not really. How about Psyence Fiction, U.N.K.L.E.'s ultimate definition of the future of music in 1998, and one that certainly goes beyond 2004?
Granted that this work as a whole is a masterpiece (haven't taken it off my jukebox in over two weeks now), the pinnacles of the album (it has two) come when the voice of The Verve's Richard Ashcroft breaks the silence in track #5, singing "God knows your Lonely Soul..." and when the unmistakable voice of Thom Yorke embraces you in "Rabbit in Your Headlights" close to the end.
What more can you ask for? This album is as close as it comes to perfection in blending musical styles. Listening to it six years after its original release sounds every bit as fresh as it did back then. Indeed, I dare to say it sounds better today, because a lot of these sounds have sunk in, to become a part of mainstream culture, something that says a lot about how far ahead of their time these guys were back then.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 1998
Format: Audio CD
Five years ago, James Lavelle said, "I have a dream, that one day I will bring together the best people in hip-hop, rock and electronica and make an album which is a melting pot of all those genres." And with Psyence Fiction, he accomplishes his goal, with a little help (actually, a lot - Lavelle's only audible presence on the LP are a few breaths into the mic) from fellow Mo'Waxer DJ Shadow, Mike D, Kool G Rap, Thom Yorke, Richard Ashcroft and several other notable names in the realm of cutting-edge music. The album starts of with pounding 'drums of death' and heavy beats laced with wise words courtesy of Kool G Rap, then leads on into the catchy 'UNKLE (Main Title Theme)'. On 'Lonely Soul', Richard Ashcroft's bittersweet-symphonic sound combines with orchestral arrangements and thick boom-baps to produce an epic track. 'Rabbit In Your Headlights' sounds like Radiohead at its abstract best, with Thom Yorke's unmistakable voice floating over a sad piano loop as beats slowly take centerstage and in the same manner retreat back into the background. I would think this is more of a filler while waiting for Shadow to drop the next hip-hop bomb but while we're at it, Psyence Fiction is an excellent example of what can happen when rock, electronica and hip-hop collide with each other in a flurry of sonic explosions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rich Latta on February 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
U.N.K.L.E. - Psyence Fiction (1998)

Although U.N.K.L.E. is indeed James Lavelle and DJ Shadow, this album is, in essence, the product of an artists' collective. As a result, it's a fairly mixed bag. There is a running theme about aliens that attempts to lend some cohesion to the proceedings with in-between bits and spacey sounding music, although the boys don't entirely pull it off.

The rap songs (the opener "Guns Blazing" and "The Knock") rock hard with heavy drums. But I often skip these along with the rocking "Nursery Rhyme" because I'm in the mood for (and I prefer) the lower key stuff like "Unkle Main Theme" and "Blood Stain," the latter being a great song & beat with really downer lyrics I can relate to. Also, "Unreal" is a pretty trippy instrumental. "Celestial Annialation" is another vocal-less track that's a bit more ominous sounding.

"Chaos" is primarily a female vocal and guitar that I don't care for and always skip. And track 6 is a mock commercial intended to be a comment on the music industry that need not be heard more than once.

The album's themes are decidedly negative. That's certainly true of the standout tracks "Lonely Soul" and "Rabbit In Your Headlights."

"Lonely Soul" is sung by Richard Ashcroft of Verve fame and it's powerful. The String section sounds fantastic. DJ Shadow wrote the music (or constructed it?) on this song as on most of the album. I must say, this is perhaps the most musical music he's done.

"Rabbit In Your Headlights" alone makes this CD worth getting. Amazing that Tom Yorke kept this, one of his best songs, from his Radiohead mates. Those opening piano chords just kill me, and then comes Tom's angelic voice with those poisonous words," . . . fat bloody fingers/ sucking your soul away." Whew!
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