A HUNDRED DAYS OFF
ALBUM V2 RELEASE: SEPTEMBER
16, 2002 REVIEW: SEPTEMBER 18, 2002
sigh of relief is my first, immediate reaction; it wasn't all Darren Emerson's
band after all. Perhaps typical of someone working in journalism, I believed
the papers. I really thought Karl Hyde and Rick Smith were just two old
geezers saved from the graveyard of 80:s pop by the DJ genius of Emerson.
Instead, something actually seems to have been released with Darren Emerson's
departure. Perhaps the boat was excessively loaded, lying too deep in
the water. Now, having lost some of the ballast, Underworld are setting
sail again, masts high and proud in the sky.
The most important change is the abandonment of most of the relentless
beats, and consequently a return to classic Underworld elegance. Echoed
in "A Hundred Days Off" I hear the mellow ambience of their
first and seminal album "DubNoBassWithMyHeadMan". The excessive
thumping of "Second Toughest in the Infants" and "Beacoup
Fish" has been silenced, and we can once again enjoy the consciousness
streams of Karl Hyde against a soothing as well as dynamic backdrop.
If only Hyde would sing or talk more. His vocals have set Underworld apart
from other major electronica bands and given the songs their own unique
personalities. Just about every song on "Dubnobass..." had it's
own soul, while it is hard to remember anything specific from later years
apart from the "lager lager lager"-rant of their greatest hit
ever, "Born Slippy". To be fair, Hyde is talking a lot on "A
Hundred Days Off", but his voice is kept too discretely in the background.
What I'm saying though, is that Underworld kind of sound like they used
to. And somehow, in these fast moving times of ever changing musical output,
that feels OK.