CD Review of End Titles...Stories for Film by UNKLE
Recommended if you like
Talk Talk, Joy Division, Skylab
End Titles...Stories for Film

Reviewed by R. David Smola


iving up to its title, the disc does play like a soundtrack to a moody dark sexual thriller, complete with a cavernous production that makes the music sound stretched and echoed. It is quite effective at setting that semi-Dysthymic ambiance, and moves about that terrain by filling in some other colors along the way. Haunting instrumental tracks are followed by danceable (but never bubbly) tracks with emotive and effective vocals. Technically, End Titles is not really a new album. Ten of the 22 tracks were created for the Alex Grazioli documentary film "Odyssey in Rome" (about Abel Ferrara’s three-year effort to make a modernized movie about Mary Magdalene, featuring Forest Whitaker and Juliet Binoche) while the others are songs that belong to a film yet to be created, existing in the collective consciousness of UNKLE. This is an excellent record that knows exactly the ground it’s going to cover, and settles into a well-defined groove while providing enough wrinkles to create variety within that scope.

"Blade in the Back" is a very danceable number with a Depeche Mode feel. The vocals throughout – especially on that track – are reminiscent of some of the more desperation-flavored performances of Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis. "Chemical," featuring Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, is an eerie, haunting track with some typical Homme guitar sprinkled in over a chaotic rhythm. "Against the Grain" is the best track on the record. Traces of Alan Parson’s Project, a generous serving of Talk Talk, and a hint of Peter Gabriel with the sensuality of Enigma proves to be a very savory formula. Gavin Clark’s perfect vocal performance has a touch of Bryan Ferry in the delivery. Clark, who lent his talent to UNKLE’s last effort War Stories, is featured on four additional songs on this album. In addition to Clark and Josh Homme, UNKLE also utilizes the talents of Chris Goss (production and musician credits include Kyuss, Auf De Maur and Queens of the Stone Age), James Petralli (White Denim) and trippy proggers Black Mountain on End Stories. All of their collaborations enhance the overall hypnotic mood; only the Black Mountain piece falls short of the other outstanding material.

"Heaven," another Gavin Clark collaboration, is very haunting in a Joy Division way. The song switches between a low pulsing electronic pocket and the sad and desperate vocals of Clark, which, as he sings along, seem to lose the melody until the verse is completed, when the groove resumes. This is very effective and moody music composition and structure. UNKLE doesn’t blast out new music at a furious They Might Be Giants pace; they have only produced six releases (including a B-sides collection) since ‘98. However, if each release has the intense unified vision that this work does, they are certainly worth the wait.

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