Release Date: 10.16.07
The ageless wonders of Underworld deliver a splendid zip of electro-wellness on Oblivion With Bells, the fifth studio album from Rick Smith and Karl Hyde, an unflinching tandem who continue to avoid collecting Social Security checks while creating everlasting dance magnificence. Smith and Hyde have always amazed brains with nimble skills like that of university physicists, with a courageous punk aesthetic that emits from their British pours as if they frequently bathe in Ponce de Leon's fabled fountain of youth.
Underworld's soul smashing set at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City 1999 still remains high atop my most beloved concert experiences ever witnessed. As Smith toggled back and forth between a Herculean assortment of mechanical audio generators, the intrepid Karl Hyde with elasticity like that of a rubber ball, bounced and whipped about the stage for hours without squandering an ounce of glee. A similar performance was captured and relinquished in 2000 as Everything, Everything.
Despite my infinite passion for Underworld, my unrequited love affair with their music, art, and fascinating career, the uneventful batch of glitz on Oblivion With Bells could end up being swallowed into a cavernous waft of silence when cliques like Justice, The Black Ghosts, or Simian Mobile Disco are absorbing much of the world's dance floor shock.
Even as they remain active by providing essential hypnoticism for Danny Boyle films, assembling the prolific score for Anthony Minghella's picky Breaking and Entering, developing projects with the Tomato art collective, being chased like sick dogs off stage by demented Grecian anarchists in masks with hands full of CS gas, or cancelling shows due to mysterious illnesses, this daredevil duo must come to terms with the notion of retirement at some point. Brett Farve they are not. And is Darren Emerson so busy with spinning decks of heat in Ibiza or Brighton Beach that he can't find precious time to come back and help guide the sinking Underworld ship out from its atramentous odyssey?
"Ring Road", very reminiscent of "Bruce Lee" from their pinnacle product Beaucoup Fish, personifies the classic Hyde stream of consciousness, where the galvanic poet spouts off a curious collection of oddball lyrics lifted from his midnight diary entries or from scraps of paper found on the side of the road.
The modest offerings "Beautiful Burnout" and "Crocodile", hefty with extended beats like cataclysmic rapids of mundane vitality, ultimately veer down a humdrum path of insignificance, almost circling back to the laughable beginning Under The Radar, which until now, was the primary blemish on Underworld's immaculate record. Get well soon boys.
Glam Bucket / Live @ Fillmore