|Underworld - Live: Everything, Everything|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 12 September 2000|
I was hipped to Underworld with the release of their 1999 Beaucoup Fish record. We get many electronic and techno records sent to us at AudioRevolution.com for review and easily 95 percent of them are so bad that they end up in a pile of music that will never see our CD player again. The vast majority of techno/dance/DJ artists suffer from the same affliction - they simply can't create, or even steal, a melody that will work as the basis of a hit record. Rap producers aren't musical geniuses. Dr. Dre had his biggest hits riding on top of a Parliament Funkadelic tune, but at least in that case, the song had a melody. You could feel it. You could hum the tune and you knew where it was going to go. Most techno exists because some well-funded Euro-brat has a Macintosh G4, Pro Tools and minimal chops on the one's and two's (Techniques turntables used for DJs for those who are techno-disabled). Underworld is different.
Underworld, much like a modern-day, up-tempo Pink Floyd, crafts songs that are part melody and part an exercise in sound architecture. Their tunes move with an unmistakable groove and travel between musical ideas and melodic schtick. What makes Underworld’s rap work is that they use hip-hop beats and grooves to fill in the space between their gangsta (or otherwise) schtick. Underworld employs a spinning, bouncing beat and futuristic modern sonic accoutrements.
Underworld Live: Everything, Everything is a good record to introduce this act to you if you are not already in the know. The nine tunes are well crafted and ordered so that they seamlessly merge together. This is the sign of either a great DJ or a masterful techno producer. It also makes the record more coherent and easy to listen to from start to finish.
The big single for Underworld is "Shudder/King of Snakes," a tune that many of my friends have learned to appreciate for its silly accent on the repeated word "sn-aike." I believe the tune is about the sport of cock-fighting, but it is hard to be sure. To be completely truthful, it doesn't really matter too much to me. The music of Underworld is analogous to abstract art. You notice some familiar details or images, but you are never really sure what they represent. At the same time, Underworld's abstract musical nature keeps the band from having as much emotional impact as a group like Pink Floyd. On the other hand, it is hard to take a Pink Floyd record, without re-mixing it, and have a dance club hit.
If you are looking to avoid speeding tickets, then skip past "Push Upstairs" while in your car. Its beat is phenomenal. The intensity keeps building. The programmed rhythms are hard-hitting and the synths are all over the place. It is a wild tune. The singer actually interacts with the crowd – a potential area of criticism for this record, as at times I forgot it was live. You just have to keep in mind that, unlike a traditional rock/pop band, Underworld is reaching for mostly electronic instruments as the inspiration hits them. In order to keep the songs together, the album does need to be somewhat preconceived and pre-programmed.
Underworld is one of the elite electronic acts on the global music scene. Their strength in song structure and understanding of melody puts them on par with Orbital, Moby and The Orb. Everything, Everything has been on a very high rotation here at AudioRevolution.com and has earned many a new fan. In a musical environment where new artists and genres are hard to find, consider Underworld an awakening.