Minus a few exceptions, most of the Global Underground releases can be filed (barring nit-picky sub genres) under progressive house. However, with names like John Digweed, Sasha, and Dave Seaman on their roster, that is by no means a bad thing. Even so, the label has undeniably received some backlash from members of the dance music community complaining that the series is too narrow.
That’s where James Lavelle comes into play. As founder of the record label Mo’ Wax and member of UNKLE, Lavelle deeply entrenched himself in the dance music scene many years ago.
He began Mo’ Wax with approximately £1,000 and went on to break such names as DJ Shadow. Later releases included Detroit techno innovator Carl Craig as well as La Funk Mod. This set the path for the sound that would later become know as “trip hop.”
UNKLE, consisting of Lavelle along with DJ Shadow and Japan’s Kudo, released the incredible “Psyence Fiction” disc, and performs at Fabric on a consistent basis.
As if that weren’t enough, Lavelle decided to resurrect his DJ career and has since gone on to DJ around the world as well as obtain a residency at London’s massive Fabric nightclub. In fact, when the aforementioned club decided to go ahead with a monthly mix CD series, James was the first DJ selected to represent the FabricLive night.
Now, Lavelle finds himself poised on top of the DJ world, set to spread his gospel to the masses via the upcoming Global Underground – Barcelona release… the 23rd in the series.
To many, this may seem like the Boxed Boys’ are making a recent attempt to branch out on the dance music tree. However, a double disc by Lavelle has actually been in the works for quite some time.
“They actually approached me about doing an album two years ago. At the time, though, I was working on the Fabric CD and don’t really like to release more than one mix per year. Andy and James (The Boxed Boys) are good friends of mine, and it’s something they’ve wanted to do for a long time now,” notes Lavelle.
“I wanted new exposure for what I was doing DJ-wise,” Lavelle continues, “I wanted people to hear the kinds of records that I’m mixing. It’s a challenge, especially when making a Global Underground record.”
Lavelle is undeniably one to mess with dance music genres and sub genres. Just by taking a look at the first track on disc one (Unklesounds’ “1-3am Intro Part One”) and the listener can tell he or she is in for a ride far from ordinary. Ask him what one’s to expect on the Barcelona release, and he’ll go straight to the track listing for answers.
James reads, “There’s Peace Division, Layo and Bushwacka!, Ian Brown…”
The list goes on and on, with some more familiar tracks nestled between the obscurities only a man like James Lavelle is capable of finding. Just hearing the mixes flow from the techy sounds of Lee Burridge, to Halo’s dark house laced grooves, off to futuristic-sounding FC Kahuna, it’s clear that any attempts to pigeonhole Lavelle will be swiftly thwarted.
Regardless of initial opinions, those who enjoyed Lavelle’s Fabric release will undoubtedly be quite satisfied with the Global Underground release.
“They’re quite similar,” notes Lavelle, “except for it’s (the GU release) two hours long. You don’t need to try and cram everything into one hour. The new one’s a little bit darker…and it’s also based on a particular set on a particular night in a particular city - instead of a weekly club night.”
When asked about his influences, Lavelle brings to light his residency at Fabric, rather than throwing out the names of today’s hottest producers and DJ’s.
“I’d say it’s (DJing at Fabric) changed quite a lot my musical direction DJ-wise. It’s the same with Andy and James, and their ability to change one’s musical direction.”
As for the future, whatever travel agency books James Lavelle’s flights better gear up for some overtime. Having already played many destinations most DJ’s only dream of, Lavelle hopes the Global Underground release will expand his globetrotting horizons. A massive tour to support the double disc is being put together, with plans of a first-ever tour of the United States tentatively scheduled for November.
On top of that, Lavelle intends to keep up his regular gig at Fabric as well as release a new UNKLE album in the early part of 2003. Nobody said being at the top of one’s game didn’t include a hectic schedule. And with the Barcelona compilation set to hit the stands in the next month, Lavelle’s worldwide recognition is surely set to rocket skyward.
Oh…and if you were wondering, it took Lavelle about two seconds to answer which G.U. release he favors the most…
“That would be the Lee Burridge,” he states with authority.
Clean, coherent, and right to the point – quite similar to what happens when he takes over the decks.
Review: To read the review of GU:023 James Lavelle - Barcelona : Click Here.