Music » CD Reviews

Underworld

1992-2002 (V2/JBO)

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As arbiters of dark electronica for the more-than-casual-clubbing crowd, Underworld -- vocalist Karl Hyde, guitarist Rick Smith, and, until 2000, DJ Darren Emerson -- doesn't attack the dance floor as much as it stealthily creeps onto it with a menacing crawl. The proof is in its slithering, two-disc singles platter, which unfolds like a long, sweaty groove torn between a French kiss and a love bite.

The band's landmark 1996 tracks "Born Slippy" and "Pearl's Girl" retain their futuristic, hard-edged techno stomp, while the intoxicating clicks and pops of "Mmmm Skyscraper I Love You" and inky synth swirls of "Dirty Epic" represent the otherworldliness of 1993's Dubnobasswithmyheadman. Beaucoup Fish's triumvirate of pulsating industrialized circuitry -- the floating IDM of "Jumbo," mechanically inclined "Push Upstairs," and wild-eyed, electronic frenzy of "Moaner" -- retains a similarly edgy bent. However, the lone track from the post-Emerson era, "Two Months Off," exhibits a generic keyboard-born brightness and self-aware party-anthem attitude. The track shows how vital Emerson was to Underworld's snaky sound, and how lost the band was without him on 2002's A Hundred Days Off.

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