Underworld’s session at BBC Maida Vale studios on Pete Tong’s Essential Selection show is now available for streaming on BBC’s iPlayer. It will be available until next week Friday.
The setlist for the show was:
Designer Heath Killen initiated last month on his Website a new series of articles examining the relationship between design and music with a must-read feature on Underworld, arguably the most successful union of designers and musicians. In the piece, Killen goes in-depth with John Warwicker, longtime friend of Underworld and member of Tomato, the art and design collective of which Rick Smith and Karl Hyde are also parts.
“On hearing the initial versions of the tracks and in conversation with both Rick and Karl the (reborn?) energy was evident and ‘of its time’. A counter-point to ‘Oblivion With Bells,’” Warwicker told Heath, referencing the artwork for Barking. “Of course our conversations are not purely about music or imagery they are about many things, including general cultural and social matters. All of this combined to make the colourful deconstructed ‘mess’ that became the cover.”
In addition to his interview with Warwicker, Killen provides his own learned insight into Tomato’s work with Underworld, spotlighting and commenting upon most of the major releases and campaigns, some of which we’ve excerpted below.
Underworld’s third album, [Dubnobasswithmyheadman] their first under the visual direction of John Warwicker and Tomato, marked a significant evolutionary jump in both the musical and visual identity of Underworld. The artwork is dark, chaotic and typographic. The music is layered, hypnotic and narcotic. This release signaled that there was something truly special about the band – from the signature sounds they were making, to Karl Hyde’s steam-of-consciousness vocal poetry, to the indecipherable and utterly compelling artwork it was packaged in. – Killen
We are in constant touch with other so the ongoing conversation shapes what we all do. When asked about how tomato works i’ve always replied ‘it’s a bit like alcoholics anonymous, it’s a support system and critical forum’. Of course there are certain moments when this support and criticism is more pertinent than at other times but the effect of this rarely manifests itself in a major way it shapes and guides on a day to day basis. – Warwicker
At my most personal I see words and ideas like musical phrases (more poetry than literature) and typography as having similarities with music … tone, timbre, rhythm, ‘voice’. That is what I am trying to achieve, as in my book ‘The Floating World‘ and ‘Mmm… Skyscraper, I Love You’ as examples. – Warwicker
Tomato is different to most design groups that I know about, in that there is not a ‘style’ that dominates or shapes any expression. Tomato was initiated as a conversation/support system/critical forum rather than a studio interested in modernist expression (as an example). Tomato is set up to support the individuals on their own exploratory journey and whatever form that might take. It is expansive rather than reductive. This is not a criticism of other studios, far from it. it’s just how we are. the onus on everyone is to bring back something different whether it be an improvement in craft or something radically different, something unexpected. – Warwicker
One thing that all Underworld covers share is the sense of the hand-crafted, the use of material, ink, paint and paper. Even when the work is purely digitally, there’s still a rawness and grittiness to it all that makes it feel special and unique. - Killen
For more of this excellent material with John Warwicker, including anecdotes specific to several designs, please visit Heath Killen’s site.
Underworld’s recording session at the BBC’s Maida Vale studio will be broadcast on Pete Tong on Radio 1 on Friday, September 17, starting at 9:00 PM. Program information is available here. It will also be available for listening on BBC’s iPlayer for 1 week after the broadcast.
Underworld recorded the intimate show in Studio MV4 on Wednesday night in front of 30 audience members. This is the same studio in which the John Peel session was recorded in 2003.
Born Dirty brings you a tasting menu of the first round of Barking reviews.
That Barking is not an unqualified success is hardly surprising, but it does show Underworld reinvigorated to make music for dancefloors. Which, as anyone who has raved to “King Of Snake” will testify, is no bad thing. [Link]
Barking, their sixth album since 1994, shows a band trying very hard to match former glories and fairly often succeeding… Kudos to Underworld for reaching out to others for inspiration – but they could’ve picked a bit more discerningly; definitely an album to play pick’n'mix with. [Link]
Although this is hardly Underworld at its finest, the duo’s songwriting fits the mainstream productions and results in a solid dance album for the 2010s — music for aging-raver activities like driving cars, pushing swings, or jogging on treadmills. [Link]
What Underworld always retain is a unique warmth that exudes in great generous pulses from everything they do. There’s a lightness and a jollity about their music which combines with an unabashed poignancy, and there’s a sense of deep contentment and peace about this album. [Link]
…with production help from High Contrast, Dubfire, and Paul Van Dyk, Underworld is freed up to focus on crafting memorable tunes that hark back to their electronica heyday, as well as more personal, coherent lyrics. Earnest emotions surprisingly suit these dance-floor surrealists. [Link]
This record can be seen as a work of celebration – celebrating the fact that they are still producing music and paying homage to the new and current generation of DJs and producers – while residing in the comforting notion that they have already proven all that they have to prove. [Link]
…the songs here are a harmonious marriage of the classic, propulsive Underworld sound and the kind of techniques and textures that postdate most of their career. It’s interesting that an album with so much outside input highlights the band’s populist, maximalist side. [Link]
Thanks to Dirty Forums member Bargo for tracking down many of these reviews.
Courtesy of Born Dirty designer Mike Bower (and our friends at Om Records), check out some images of the luxurious Barking Limited Edition Box Set, a 10.25″ x 10.25″ (~26 x 26 centimeters) which comes with the Barking album proper, a second disc of alternate versions produced by Underworld themselves, a DVD of music videos produced for each song (including two not found in other DVD-inclusive editions as well as iTunes), and a 32-page book of artwork and track-by-track commentary by Rick Smith and Karl Hyde as well as JBO’s Steve Hall and the various producers of Barking.
For information on where you can purchase this edition of Barking, as well as all the other formats with their various exclusives, please click here to visit Born Dirty’s guide to buying Barking.
With the release of Barking in the US today, it is now officially available worldwide.
Amazon is having a special deal on MP3 album purchases, including Barking. Normally $6.99, you can get Barking for just $3.99 today only.
In order to get this special price click here, and then click on the Daily Deal in the upper-left corner. Follow the instructions to enter the code and pick Barking for purchase from the list.
The full slate of Underword Live tour dates in the USA has been announced.
Oct 25 – 9:30 Club, Washington DC
Oct 27 – Roseland Ballroom, New York
Oct 29 – Cow Palace, San Francisco
Oct 30 – 4th & B, San Diego
Oct 31 – The Shrine Expo Hall, Los Angeles
You can find more information and links to buy tickets on our 2010 Tour page.
Underworld’s Karl Hyde joined Dave Pearce last Sunday for a special edition of 6 Mix on BBC 6. In the course of the two-hour programme, Karl and Dave discussed the sights and sounds that fed into the development of “Barking”, the new Underworld album that’s on sale now. Among the many interesting anecdotes, Karl and the boys from Orbital took in a mental Aphex Twin show, Karl once pretended not to like disco for fear of being attacked, and “Between Stars” was a track initiated by Underworld Live member Darren Price.
Additionally, Pearce played a number of records from Karl’s prodigious collection, each with commentary by Karl, including three songs from Underworld’s performance at Creamfields in 2002.
The new Underworld album, “Barking”, is on sale now in Japan and the United Kingdom, with North America coming online tomorrow, September 14.
Featuring the singles “Scribble” and “Always Loved a Film”, “Barking” is available in a number of different formats, many with exclusive content that cannot be purchased anywhere else — such as the second disc of alternate versions of each album track. Because it can be confusing, the bornDirty staff have maintained a comprehensive guide to the various “Barking” releases, their contents, and where they can be purchased.
Click here to see bornDirty’s guide to buying “Barking”.
In advance of the new album “Barking”, Underworld feature in the latest installment of The Guardian’s “Music Weekly” podcasts. In a brief interview, Karl Hyde discusses with Alex and Rosie not just the new record, but also the uncommonly long career of Underworld and the “wonders of Essex.”
Click here to listen (the Underworld portion begins about five minutes in).