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What Happened To Underworld?


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Underworld were probably the people who initially really turned me on to electronic music in a serious way. Both 'Dubnobasswithmyheadman' and 'Second Toughest In The Infants' are triumphs of what can be done musically within the constraint of electronic music. Deep, technical albums. The many supporting EPs that were released along side them were huge, significant remixes - many of which could have served as the main body of work for any other artist.

'Beaucoup Fish' released in '98 and was a more dance floor orientated album. Rhythmically and tonally a departure from the earlier material but still very much recognisable. Many tracks being a twist on straight techno. I enjoy a lot of BF, 'King Of Snake' being clearly my favourite track. It's not as intimate or complex as the earlier stuff, but it's not intended to be.

Somewhere around 2000 they released a live compilation album/DVD 'Everything, Everything'. Stunning performances, and just a fantastic package of visual art and music. I've seen Underworld live a couple of times, and this is one of the few live recordings that I think actually does the work justice. Everyone should listen to this, I can't recommend it enough

And then, something seems to go wrong. 'A Hundred Days Off', 'Oblivion With Bells', 'Barking', 'Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future' are all tripe in my opinion. Soulless, shitty house music. Embarrassing actually. Listening to an old man mumble of cheesy house beats with super cold production. 4/4 modern, rubbery beats and just musically super uninteresting. Bland is the word I would use. They all sound like fucking Calvin Harris covers to me. Not what veterans of the industry should be involved with.

There's a line 'Crocodile' that really exemplifies this for me, and it's something along the lines of "blood on a tissue on the floor of a train". It's like a parody of an underworld line. It's too on the nose, too straight. Too fucking juvenile if you ask me. That line was what really struck my ear. Not only does its attempt at layering fall flat, it sounds awkward and clumsy. There's many other examples of this (like 'Hamburg Hotel' being a joke at the cisterns expense)

It's a legacy fucking ruined in my opinion.

What went wrong? Am I missing something? Does anyone here actually think any of their later albums have any artistic merit?

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It's funny because I had never listened to Underworld up until recently but I remembered they did that fuckin sweet closing track in the movie Trainspotting so I listened to Dubnobasswithmyheadman and STITI, and thought they were pretty mind blowing. I realized if there's an older popular super influential band I missed I should probably check that shit out, ASAP

Banstyle : Sappy's Curry and Dirty Epic FTW

Edited by Candiru
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18 minutes ago, tec said:

The new albums aren't great but there was some awesome stuff on Drift. They have not disappeared up their arses.

I admit I've not listened to any of it yet - there's 7 CDs worth or so. I'll check it out this evening

I'd say the new albums aren't even good, never mind great.

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Saw them at Pinkpop in 1996. It was an awesome gig. The stories about Underworld gigs is def true. Great great live act. You're instantly drawn into being one with the rest of the audience, the band and the music. Magical stuff.

As far as albums concerned, I mostly share the sentiments in this thread. Old Underworld is very good. Dubnobass... is a classic. Haven't heard any new stuff.

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Beautiful Burnout is a great track.  How can it be a parody of an underworld lyric when it is one? 

2 months off, jumbo, downpipe, ring road, all great.  I thought Barking was a great album, given it was all collaborations. Scribble is a great live track too.

Karls stream of consciousness poetry lyrics still maintain the magic for me. I need to spend more time with Drift but i would suggest being free from the constraints of writing an album in a studio has done wonders for their creative juices.

 

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15 hours ago, Soloman Tump said:

Beautiful Burnout is a great track.  How can it be a parody of an underworld lyric when it is one? 

2 months off, jumbo, downpipe, ring road, all great.  I thought Barking was a great album, given it was all collaborations. Scribble is a great live track too.

Karls stream of consciousness poetry lyrics still maintain the magic for me. I need to spend more time with Drift but i would suggest being free from the constraints of writing an album in a studio has done wonders for their creative juices.

 

I said it was like a parody. It has all the language of an old Underworld lyric but none of the layering or nuance. It really epitomizes my opinion on their new releases

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32 minutes ago, mcbpete said:

Nah, Change the Weather surely, just listen to that slap bass

 

Nah. I genuinely love doot doot. Cant bring myself to love that sorry. 

Edited by donquixote
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damn. screw the haters. underworld are still good, but as is expected for a group of their caliber, a shadow of their former selves. That's what happens when you grow old. Nothing will touch second toughest, but dubnobass -> two worlds off is a helluva run. Top quality music on all fronts. Enjoyed drift but it's not perfect

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