By Craig Roseberry
Three years after Underworld seduced the world with the
Generation X-defining hit "Born Slippy" (immortalized
in the film "Trainspotting"), the U.K. outfit
returned full-throttle with 1999's "Beaucoup Fish."
An exhaustive yearlong tour followed, and in 2000, Underworld
released "Everything Everything," a live CD/DVD
that documented the seminal innovators' illustrious 10-year
In late 1999, though, longstanding core
member/international DJ Darren Emerson announced his sudden
departure to pursue a solo career, leaving remaining members
Karl Hyde and Rick Smith to face the daunting challenge
of mapping out their questionable future.
On Sept. 24 (one day earlier overseas),
Underworld re-emerges as a rejuvenated duo with its fourth
studio effort, the supple and triumphant "A Hundred
Days Off," via JBO/V2 Records.
More sonically diverse and less caustic
than previous sets like 1993's "dubnobasswithmyheadman"
and 1996's "Second Toughest in the Infants,"
the new album retains the group's trademark surging electronic
pulses and Hyde's introspective lyrical musings. But at
the same time, the landscape is infused with seductive
rhythmic undertows, languid acoustic instrumentation,
sensuous art-pop, and chilled-out ambient flourishes.
"This album is all about evolution
and discovery," Hyde says. "Rather than trying
to recreate our sound from the last decade -- possibly
becoming cartoons of ourselves -- Rick and I spent a great
deal of time crafting this album. We felt that this record
had to encapsulate our growth as individuals and as a
"My hero Miles Davis once said that
in order to remain vital and progress as an artist, you
have to destroy the past," Hyde continues. "This
record is our new beginning. We've matured, both personally
and professionally. We've stopped chasing the charts and
album sales figures in order to focus on creating an album
that was much more diverse and inclusive of the various
musical mediums we find interesting, relevant, and viable."
"A Hundred Days Off" encompasses
a range of influences, from Kraftwerk, Earth, Wind &
Fire, and classic Chicago house music to Delta blues,
dub, and indigenous music from Madagascar and the Pacific
Far East. Highlights include the tribal-inflected "No
Move" and the haunting soul of "Sola Sistim."
"We're really excited about this
album," V2 product manager David Bell explains. "Karl
and Rick delivered a unique collection that is forward-thinking
while still retaining their trademark sound."
To celebrate the album, multimedia listening
parties will be held in 25 major market cities the weekend
prior to its release. Each venue will be supplied with
custom DVDs featuring visuals provided by Tomato, the
multimedia commercial arts collective Hyde and Smith helped
found 11 years ago.
In addition, exclusive Tomato artwork,
and Underworld interviews, videos, unreleased tracks,
and remixes is being featured each day for 100 days (that
began Sept. 1) at underworld-jbo.com and the group's Web
site, dirty.org. A series of select live North American
dates will kick off in October.