British duo Karl Hyde and Rick Smith are pioneers in electronic music and makeup one of the most influential acts across the globe, Underworld. They have reinvented the musical landscape for over 20 years and are at no hurry to call it quits. They’ve been groundbreaking with their ever-evolving sound and have influenced some of the biggest names in the game.
Hyde and Smith met in England in the early 80s and quickly became friends. It was then when Hyde asked Smith to join his up and coming band The Screen Gemz. They’ve had different band members come and go along with different band names, but through it all, they’ve stayed united and consistent on their journey in evolving and reinventing their sound. Their first album under the name Underworld was “Underneath the Radar”, this album has a funky new wave electro feel and hit the Billboard 200 charts in the US. Not long after this album was released they took a brief hiatus to focus on other endeavors.
In 1990, DJ Darren Emerson joined the band and they reemerged with a whole new sound. They fused their rock-pop elements with a dark electronic groove. Their first album with the new sound and new third member was released in 1994. Dubnobasswithmyheadman”, blew the critics away and won critical acclaim from the music community. This album perfectly blends melodic techno, house, bass, and rock. The album’s lyrics tie everything together magnificently. They are experimental, dark and thought-provoking.
Their second album together, “Second Toughest of Infants” was not only great but it surpassed the acclaim their debut received! This release also found Underworld mainstream success. “Born Slippy: NUXX”, which I’m sure everyone has heard at some point, was featured in the movie Trainspotting and became an instant anthem of the 90s. This single has sold over a million copies in the UK and would become one of their most well-known tracks.
In 2000, Emerson left Underworld to pursue a solo career. Hyde and Smith continued releasing music together and they also focused on other creative avenues. They started working on soundtracking as well as collaborating with other producers such as Paul van Dyk, and High Contrast. They were also commissioned to be the Music Directors of the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony in London; a high honor indeed!
In the years that followed, they’ve re-released the remastered and expanded editions of their numerous studio albums. They’ve continued to tour across the world and even earned a Grammy nomination for their 2016 album “Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future”. Last year, they announced a new year-long project named “Drift” which is a music and video experience. This venture has the band releasing material on a weekly basis and will culminate with a full album titled “Drift Songs” out on October 25, 2019.
“Space”, released this month is Underworld’s fourth episode of their on-going Drift series. This is the perfect soundtrack to your summer camping underneath the night sky excursion. Or tunes to watch the waves and melt into the endless ocean. This is pure escapism music.
The final track on Drift episode four is “Border Country” which is a collaboration with Ø [Phase]. This track is an intense fast throbbing gem. Its haunting lyrics and dark bass beats create the perfect soul-stirring ambiance.
“My relationship with Ashley a.k.a Ø [PHASE] began in Autumn 2017 when I first heard his Submerged Metropolitan release.. it’s not an exaggeration to say I immediately fell in love with his music,” “There was a sense of journey and mystery and magic to what I heard. Having worked with him for a little while we know he brings that same magic to the table every time, informed by his deep passion and understanding of the lineage of Techno and a thirst to learn and grow. A lovely talented man.”Rick Smith
Underworld continues to push the boundaries with their sound. Their live performances are sought after tickets and they do not disappoint with their ever-evolving show. You can catch them on tour throughout the world and for the remainder of 2019, they have these huge festivals lined up Latitude, Positivus and, Lollapalooza Berlin. I do not see any US tour dates, but one can wish, with the new album coming out later this year you never know.
*Featured Photo | via Rob Baker Ashton*