15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
If only their own recent records could be THIS good...,
This review is from: Athens (Audio CD)
Having been a huge Underworld fan in the late 90s, I consider Darren Emerson's 2000 departure to have left Rick Smith and Karl Hyde in some kind of trouble a la post-"Final Cut" Pink Floyd, after that band parted company with founding member Roger Waters ; sure they had every right to keep the name for themselves as there was an Underworld BEFORE Emerson joined, but the special task that made "Second Toughest In The Infants" or "Beaucoup Fish" such groundbreaking pieces of intelligent techno-pop (genre-defining on their own) had somewhat been largely diluted on subsequent "Hundred Days Off" and "Oblivion With Bells" efforts. If the songwriting skills were more or less still there, the production duties had become more common than genuinely unique by then.
Still, I was puzzled they delivered as compilers one of the best volumes in the "Back To Mine" series back in 2003 ; melting Gil Scott-Heron to old school techno cuts, it spurred with life out of the speakers and came together incredibly well as a selection, even though a rather eclectic one at that.
On this new compilation, the duo team up with their studio alter-egoes The Misterons to build up something altogether very different and very much the same: the same because as proper music fans they have put together tracks they were digging and that got them "scratching their head in the studio" (in their own words), very different also because as it is (brilliantly) sequenced, you get the impression of a full-hour jam session involving the very same band from start to finish. Which, considering the diverse nature of the material selected, is something of a triumph in itself.
Starring such legendary acts as The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Soft Machine, Roxy Music or Carl Craig through his Detroit Experiment alias, it has sort of an overall "jazz not jazz" vibe that would probably have Gilles Peterson eat his hat, and yet, with the inclusion of rare cuts by Moodymann (the wet club lavishness of "Rectify"), Squarepusher (the broody "Theme From Sprite") and Laurent Garnier (an Afro Broken Beat take on his awesome "Gnanmankoudji", taylormade for discerning dancefloors), it always keeps an open eye (and ear) on the most modern aspects of that genre.
Add to this Alice Coltrane's cult world-jazz classic "Journey In Satchidananda" as a breakthrough introduction, the little known classic "New York City" by maverick jazz-rock bassist Miroslav Vitous and an exclusive be-bop rework collaboration with producer Brian Eno as a closing credits end theme, and you eventually have to admit you're actually holding the best mixed compilation in a long while, beautifully sequenced and dreamily crafted.
Chocolate for ears, or so.