Sunday, 1 March 2009

Underworld (Part 1 of ?)

Welcome to the world of Ilictronix once more, my friends. For this installment, I've brought you something very special: a series of articles about a band I think is worth listening to. The reasoning behind this? That there is no perfect song to represent a band. Some of you may argue this (particularly with a certain "NUXX" track for this artist... Damn Trainspotting...), but it's true. As such, for the next few days, for all intents and purposes, you will eat, sleep, and breathe... Underworld.

The band I have for you today likely needs no introduction, considering their fairly large level of popularity on the "scene". Still, I can't take any chances
of alienating readers, so here goes.

I first stumbled upon Underworld on iTunes (where, oddly enough, I found most of my favorite bands). I'd seen them before, but always as one of those bands you brushed off to the side. Not anymore. Underworld got their start sometime in the 80's, as little more than a bunch of Kraftwerk fans who decided to make a band. The group was originally called Freur, and consisted of Bryn Borrows, Alfie Thomas, John Warwicker, and ultimate stayfasts Karl Hyde and Rick Smith.

After the moderate success of "Doot Doot", a generic Pop single, and a few other tracks, the group disbanded. However, in 1987, Hyde, Smith, Thomas, and Burrows regrouped under the new moniker of Underworld (which was taken from the title of a film Freur composed the soundtrack of). This is the group fans generally refer to as Underworld, MK. 1. MK. 1 was more of an Electropop band, but their sound was far from perfect, and the group disbanded in 1990.

Thomas and Burrows pursued solo careers, but Hyde and Smith remained close. After a short break (in which the two created their future music-video design group, Tomato), Hyde and Smith decided to return to Underworld, now recruiting DJ Darren Emerson as their third member. Emerson's addition gave the group a balanced feel, organizing into a sort of Avant-Garde-Rock-Dance-Pop-Techno group (Now thought of as Underworld MK. 2). The group (now completely revitalized) then released their true breakthrough album, "Dubnobasswithmyheadman".

It is from this album that my first of two tracks comes from: Cowgirl.
If you knew Underworld at all before this article, this is probably one of the songs you knew them for (excluding, once again, the unnamed NUXX track). The song begins abruptly, with a looping guitar solo. From there, it just keeps spiraling higher and higher upwards, until ultimately reaching the clouds and branching out from there. And I, not content to give you any simple album track, will provide something you can't find on iTunes (does that make what we do here slightly more legal?). I've given you the Single Version, with 26 extra seconds of sweet, luscious sound!

Underworld - Cowgirl (Single Version) [right click to download]

Now, back to the story (I promise I'll be done soon...):
The trio went on to make another album, "Second Toughest In The Infants", which, for the sake of time and in anticipation of Pt. 2, I'll gloss over. If you're interested in getting ahead of the game, check out Juanita and Pearl's Girl, two highlights.
After a break, they made album #3, my personal favorite: "Beaucoup Fish".

It is largely ignored by all but the true fans, and as such, deserves the honor coming to it. And it is from this album that comes the other track you MUST hear: Cups. It is the opener to the album, and begins with a nice little orchestral sequence, before treating you to what can only be described as eight minutes of pure sonic bliss. Hyde recites the dreamlike lyrics (which vaguely deal with his overcoming alcoholism) as if entranced, and, come the end of this segment, transitions perfectly into an infinitely clever ├╝berraver, the frantic instrumental of Pens.

Don't skip the beginning, though: this isn't a track you can listen to divisibly between YouTube Poops. It MUST be heard as a whole.

Underworld - Cups / Pens [right click to download]

Now, if you're STILL AWAKE- *readers stir* -, then I have a final word of advice before allowing you to return to your internet activities: Don't just download the files, listen to them twice, and forget about everything you've heard. Take some interest in the time and effort I've taken to show this group to you. If not... see you next time.

Reminding you to Stay Slippy,
> Champi :)


prez jordan said...

Text wall

You and I are going to have to have a little chat, sir :)

Mr. Brown said...

I was going to see them live this year, but they shut the doors to the room in front of our noses. I was pretty pissed, and now I still have to see them, sigh

Ayso said...

very good read. I'm gonna to see them in August at HARD but I never knew much about them. thanks!

Lexsick said...

Cups and pens, nice song selection.

Born slippy is gonna droppppp at hard summer!!