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Underworld

Underworld became one of the most crucial electronic acts of the 1990s via an intriguing synthesis of old and new. The trio's two-man frontline, vocalist Karl Hyde and keyboard player Rick Smith, had been recording together since the early-'80s new wave explosion; after two unsuccessful albums released as Underworld during the late '80s, the pair finally hit it big after recruiting Darren Emerson, a young DJ hipped to the sound of techno and trance. Traditional pop song forms were jettisoned in favor of Hyde's heavily treated vocals, barely there whispering, and surreal wordplay, stretched out over the urban breakbeat trance ripped out by Emerson and company while Hyde's cascade of guitar-shard effects provided a bluesy foil to the stark music. All in all, the decision to go pop was hardly a concession to the mainstream. The first Underworld album by the trio, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, appeared in late 1993 to a flurry of critical acclaim; the trio then gained U.S. distribution for the album with TVT. Second Toughest in the Infants, the group's sophomore LP, updated its sound slightly and received more praise than the debut. Unlike the first, the LP also sold well, thanks in part to the non-album single "Born Slippy," featured on the soundtrack to the seminal film Trainspotting.

The roots of Underworld go back to the dawn of the 1980s, when Hyde and Smith formed a new wave band called Freur. The group released Doot-Doot in 1983 and Get Us Out of Here two years later, but subsequently disintegrated. Hyde worked on guitar sessions for Debbie Harry and Prince, then reunited with Smith in 1988 to form an industrial-funk band called Underworld. The pair earned an American contract with Sire and released its debut album, Underneath the Radar, in 1988. Change the Weather followed one year later, even though little attention had been paid to the first. By the end of the decade, Underworld had disappeared as well.

As they had several years earlier, Hyde and Smith shed their skin yet again, recruiting hotshot DJ Darren Emerson and renaming themselves Lemon Interrupt. In 1992, the trio debuted with two singles, "Dirty"/"Minneapolis" and "Bigmouth"/"Eclipse," both released on Junior Boys Own Records. After they reverted back to Underworld, 1993's "Rez" and "MMM...Skyscraper I Love You" caused a minor sensation in the dance community. Instead of adding small elements of techno to a basically pop or rock formula (as many bands had attempted with varying success), Underworld treated techno as the dominant force. Their debut album, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, was praised by many critics upon release later in 1993 and crossed over to the British pop charts. Hyde, Smith, and Emerson impressed many at their concert dates as well; the trio apparently relished playing live, touring Great Britain twice plus Japan, Europe, and the annual summer festival circuit, where their Glastonbury appearance became the stuff of legend.

Dubnobasswithmyheadman was released in the U.S. in 1995 after being licensed to TVT Records. During the rest of the year, Underworld were relatively quiet, releasing only the single "Born Slippy." Finally, Second Toughest in the Infants appeared in early 1996 to much critical praise. The trio gained no small amount of commercial success later in the year when "Born Slippy" was featured on the soundtrack to Trainspotting, the controversial Scottish film that earned praise from critics all over the globe. Underworld also remained busy with Tomato -- their own graphic design company responsible for commercials from such high-profile clients as Nike, Sony, Adidas, and Pepsi -- and remixing work for Depeche Mode, Björk, St. Etienne, Sven Väth, Simply Red, and Leftfield. Emerson continued to DJ on a regular basis, releasing mix albums for Mixmag! and Deconstruction. Though Underworld's 1999 LP, Beaucoup Fish, was initially a critical and commercial disappointment, the band continued to tour the world. The live album Everything, Everything followed in 2000, after which Emerson left to continue his DJ career. A Hundred Days Off, Underworld's first LP as a duo since 1989, was released in mid-2002. One year later, the stopgap compilation 1992-2002 appeared.

By 2005, the duo had officially been joined by one of Britain's most respected DJs, Darren Price (although he contributed to A Hundred Days Off), and his work also appeared on a series of online-only EPs Underworld released during 2005 and 2006. They also recorded new material for the soundtrack of the Anthony Minghella film Breaking and Entering. Their first "proper" full-length since 2002, Oblivion with Bells, appeared in 2007. It was followed in 2010 by Barking, an album that featured numerous guest producers including Paul van Dyk, Appleblim, and High Contrast. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Rez (Bassnectar Remix)

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Track List: Rez (Bassnectar Remix) (Single)

Comments

Impressively different. Vocals are like a psychotic lullaby. Sweet and murderously delicious. Musically matured and daring to be naked. Great job guyz!!!!!
Dudes got me dancin on the ceilin.
heatherbarlo w 8 6
Underworld the s**t!
Dirty Epic is great..... My favorite is Jumbo (everything everything). . . .
Dirty Epic is one of their best...
I am the Doctor, please reoport to the dancefloor!!
Great beginning to Underneath the Radar! Great song from the 1980s
Just a great group from many different genras of music.
Underworld has been so consistently amazing.
ajmorley
rez/cowgirl lyrics should read -- an eraser of love --
always amazing!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
nice and pumpy. MAN-MACHINE FTW
incredible.
king_zonko
love underworld.
Dance me into tomorrow. powertx read under Similar Artists above.
I am addicted to Underworld and looking for other groups that sound like them but can't find any. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Underworld got me dancin on the ceilin
Underworld's music is my religion *s w o o n*
chrmar
Pearls Girl = best electronica/ t e c h n o track ever ...
notice beaucoup fish's album is skewed. anyway, lol, ever since dirty came out in the early 90's, I was hooked.
here comes Christ on crutches brilliant
chris.11031
check out chris's warsaw radio
karagaian
feckin brilliant:)
impossible to obey speed limits if this comes on in the car
bajmckee
Check out Rez and Cowgirl live at Fuji rock festival - http://www.y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = u K 7 Q r V Q a 7 v E
Digweed is my main man ever since that movie soundtrack.. . R a v e the movie.
Oh man, just listened to Rez. Bloody amazing. Is this a remix?
barkenn
One of the best bands EVER!! I remember when they were Fruer ("Doot Doot"). Live long and prosper.
Just heard about this awesome wonderment from the show Covert Affairs last week.
Wooow what a Trip!!
Man, trainspottin g just MADE so many artist's careers, even the one's of days past, like Iggy Pop. Underworld's CD I've had to replace a couple times, just wore it out!
Yes, pure joy. Dubnobasswit h m y h e a d m a n will probably always be a favorite. Also the singles Rez (which spawned Cowgirl) and 8 Ball -- those are so great. They remind me of the best KLF mixes. Underworld has another song from Second Toughest... Juanita, looongg song but it's all pure groove, I can't get enough of it. Every couple of weeks 8 Ball comes up on my mp3 player... those days almost always end up being good days.
dmfreestate9 7
F-ing always have loved these guys...Pearl ' s Girl, 2 Months Off, Push Upstairs, Born Slippy, Dirty Epic and Cowgirl - classic hits of electronica. Keep em coming boys!
Underworld is my new Overlord.
I want to go out and run a marathon right now.
mkarpey
top 5 all time no doubt
rick.frenzen
AS FRESH AS EVER IN 2010 !!!!!!!!
I have this bands first two albums before they went electric. Liked them then as being incredibly tight but nobody caught on. When they changed their style they were still on it and I was hooked with Pearls Girl and Dubnob...Sim p l y awesome.
Underworld is the standard.
daniellesain t
words cant describe how much ive fallen in love with the music of underworld. I love a lot of electronica, but underworld has produced some of the sweetest sounds ive ever heard. It kills me that no one ive ever met appreciates this kind of music like I do. Maybe thats just because i live in america?? I dont know and dont care, ill never be able to get enough!!!! **Jumbo*Rive r of Bass**
ozeverfloati n g
technohead had it right, right time right place. They practically defined the genre, the 90's rocked.
theorbgrl
I have two words about what Underworld is to me: Pearl's Girl.
Underworld was there at the right time and place. Dubnobasswit h m y h e a d m a n is the perfect techno album/cd/dig i t a l r e l e a s e / w h a t e v e r . The sound of the synthesizer 90's, baby.
also on 1992-2002, actually : )
Actually, Born Slippy seems to be hidden somewhere in Second Toughest in the Infants but it isn't on the album page. Mysterious.. .
Not so many comments on this page but Underworld is awesome! dubnobasswit h m y h e a d m a n is awesome, but it's too bad they don't have the Born Slippy EP, just the live version. Born Slippy is epic. Actually Underworld in general is epic. Great music.
Dude Cowgirl Kick Much Bootie!
abetoor
As some the most professional l y diverse and talented artists of techno, Underworld is a full on genre of its own.
Dirty is good. Been a fan since DubnoBass. I will still dance to Cowgirl like my life is about to end.
Could someone leave a list of Underworld songs that have no lyrics in them?
kkanyagui
Great tune. I wish the track was without singing/word s . Underworld should seriously focus on beats and sounds. They could become very big...if they want.
I very much like Underworld, but it is a tragedy that they have ruined their great music with their inappropriat e lyrics. Although I recommend the music, beware that their lyrics are inappropriat e and dirty often times.
With Underworld, I tend to notice that you either LOVE them, or you DESPISE their music. I love it, they combine techno & trance in such a way that, mixed with their knack for heavy, thumping beats, you feel like you want to dance. They know how to use a repetitive song structure without making the song obnoxious or too long. I also like their steady, subtle buildup and breakdown. It gives the song unique electronica style. Great group, great songs. I definitely recommend their music.
It make me feel dancy. You dance with the me? I will not rub my peener on you, I kind of promise this. I wiggle it at you maybe in time to music making.
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