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UNDERWORLD Barking (2010 UK 9-track CD album. Underworlds sixth studio album is a thundering return to form. Teaser single Scribble makes out like Yellow Magic Orchestra gene-spliced with Grooverider blasting out over a packed out Friday night dance floor at Fabric. Always Loved A Film is an ecstatic blast of pressure-cooked euphoria whilst at the other end of the scale the albums closing track Louisiana is a beautifully sparse and keening number stripped bare to piano and Karls vocal fold-out picture sleeve UWR000322)
If years in dance music are like dog years (and they are), then Underworld might as well have come bouncing into the world a few minutes after the big bang. Barking is their first album in three years, almost an hour of new music, and it’s welcomed indeed – it may underwhelm some fans, but it shouldn't.
It's a collective effort, in keeping with Underworld's history of collaboration, featuring an eclectic cast of co-producers including Lincoln Barrett aka High Contrast, Dubfire (half of Deep Dish) and trance maestro Paul Van Dyk. Barrett hauls the techno duo into the realm of drum'n'bass, and there are moments of Pendulum-ish fist-pumping, particularly on lead single Scribble. Always Loved a Film, meanwhile, is heavily redolent of lovable Canadian prog-house beastie deadmau5. Once leaders who sounded like nothing else, they're now content to mingle with the pack, soaking up influences and paying homage to their peers.
That shouldn't suggest that this isn't distinctively an Underworld album. It's still linear, euphoric and atmospheric, entwined with Karl Hyde's beatific vocals. Some of it – particularly oceanic centrepiece Between Stars – could almost be anyone, except for Hyde's characteristic intonation, swimming just below the surface of the mix as ever. It's frustratingly generic in spots, but always good. This is no one's idea of a lazily thrown-together or cynical project.
The final two tracks move in a way only Underworld can achieve. Moon in Water features a monotonous rhythmic narration which would be disturbing if not for the sweet, everything's-gonna-be-fine stride of the backing. Then tremulous piano-based closer Louisiana delivers a farewell of such honest-to-gawd transcendent comedown teariness that one should not tackle it in a vulnerable late-night state without mop and bucket.
What Underworld always retain is a unique warmth that exudes in great generous pulses from everything they do. There's a lightness and a jollity about their music which combines with an unabashed poignancy, and there's a sense of deep contentment and peace about this album. They may not be sticking their necks out as pioneers now but it's not important – they are never less than themselves, and superficial quibbles aside this is the sound of musicians with nothing to prove and everything to give.--Sarah Bee
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Top Customer Reviews
The album starts off a tiny bit slow with the all-too-familiar track 'Bird 1', and at this point I feared the album might not amount to too much. However, soon enough I'm treated to the sounds of the epic single 'Scribble', which is an incredible, lush, synth-heavy drum and bass track. This song was a key factor in promoting the album too as it truly signalled their desire to branch out more into different genres. This attitude is evident as the album plays through as there are several tracks with a very club based feel to them including 'Between Stars' and 'Diamond Jigsaw', both of which are excellent. As usual, there are also a couple of light, airy, ambient numbers towards the end called 'Louisiana' and 'Simple Peal' (Hidden Track) which round the album off nicely. There is even a lovely little chilled out number named 'Moon In Water', overflowing with typically random Underworld samples.
I got to the end and I just had to listen to it again, straight away. There are very few electronic/dance albums these days which make me do that.Read more ›
Glimpse heaven, uncover new bass beats from the subconscious of you heart, and most importantly put masking tape on your replay button because Underworld, after a bit of swamp and marshes for almost a decade are back with a vengance! There is not a weak song on this entire album, it rocks you, charms you, harmonizes you, makes you deeply reflect and shows you that Beaucoup fish sunny sobriety that Underworld's one-of-a-kind dark beats can only achieve!
Underworld are a Genre... and this is one of those strange albums that breaks completely new ground, takes a while for the public to accept it, and then becomes a monument to the thought process we so lovingly call music!
If Rez/Cowgirl, King of Snake, Moaner, Born Slippy or the Atlantic Surf crashing against jagged rocks at midnight ever carried your soul buy this album...
If you love you car, buy this album....
This is an album every car must own!
Now for the review....
"Bird" 1 shows you a completely new dimension of upward-progressive-trance with a deep philosophical, mature chorus scintillating the nervous system
"Between the Stars" stands to be a new classic which TV advertisements will do vicious mud-battle for! The groove is completely unforgettable... in fact I can't get it to leave my head and everyone that I make it listen to says the same..... if you don't believe me go to youtube and get hooked... it is one of Underworld's most universal songs to date.
"Always loved a Film" is an anthem in the waking. The soulful beats that only underworld can shake up already getting heralled as a live-show favourite in their 2011 tours around Europe.Read more ›
The first couple of listens were a bit of a surprise - they've lightened up their music a lot . . not much brooding doom and gloom on this album . . Second listens made me think they'd been blatantly influenced by Chicane on "Always loved a film", and Susumu Yokota on "Hamburg hotel". Scribble seemed very uplifting and bright . . not usual words I'd use to describe a U-world album . .especially having known and collected all their works since Dubnobasswithmyheadman..Gone also are much of the U-world signatures . .the garbled chopped up tape loops and disjointed lyrics . . instead we have more clearly defined "songs" with Verses, Choruses and clearly interpretable meanings - most of which are highly upbeat and positive about life...
However, the album struck me as full and punchy from the outset - Bird1 hits hard from the very first listen - slick,robust and highly dance-able. The more I've listened to it, the more I've loved each and every track . .once I got over the initial shock of a "happy" Underworld, and settled down to listen to the depth and breadth of it, the more I've realised that it's still VERY much an Underworld Album . .it's still very much THEM - but with the emphasis seemingly to communicate a more positive and healthy mindset. With Barking they've unlocked a different outlook . . and when the anthemic and utterly addictive chorus on "always loved a film" kicks in, you'll eventually find yourself joyously bellowing "heaven" along with them in response to the sheer joy of life and love which they're communicating...
Buy it . . if you already loved Underworld, you'll still love it . . if you were previously put off by their slightly dark and downbeat approach, this album will definitely press some appealing buttons..
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent album, although very different from the three first albums (dub, second, beaucoup), I find these new songs full of new energy. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jose A. Araujo Garcia-patos
There appears to be a lot of mixed feeling about this album but I have to say I am a massive Underworld fan, I have all their albums, and I think the album is fantastic. Read morePublished on 17 Jun. 2012 by astrangerinthestreet
What can I say, it appears that there are mixed feelings about this album. You either don't like it, or you're raving about it. Read morePublished on 11 Oct. 2011 by Noetic-fret!
Back to the Roots?
Underworld sounds more pop and somehow like they do much earlier.
Who still reminds Underworld MK 1 (Underneath the Radar and Change the... Read more
I found this to be an ok easy listening album - not greatly outstanding and lacked the imaginative creation of Albums Dirty Epic, Beaucoup Fish, and so on from the earlier... Read morePublished on 26 Jun. 2011 by K. A. Evans
I love this album. A mixture of dance and lovely ballady stuff. Classic Underworld music. Dubhmenobase is my all time favourite Underworld album and a hard one to beat, but this is... Read morePublished on 26 May 2011 by Claire
The return of the magical-minor-key-magician Karl and his melodious mate seems to rub some fans up the wrong way. Read morePublished on 23 May 2011 by J. Harrison
Have to add my voice to the nay-sayers here. This album is the poorest offering to date from Underworld. Read morePublished on 8 April 2011 by G. ADAIR