Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Straight Out Of Romford
I've come to the opinion recently that Underworld's dubnobasswithmyheadman was the best album of the 1990s. Rick Smith's keyboards and studio skills married with Karl Hyde's guitar background were complemented perfectly when they met Darren Emerson, who brought the beats from clubland. Suddenly everything clicked and their long techno-with-vocals songs found two audiences- dancers in clubs and listeners at home. Karl's lyrics, overheard on trains and snatched from passing strangers, cut up and re-arranged to fit the grooves, were partly inspired by Lou Reed's New York album , conversational and intimate. Apparently a record company man heard their stuff and told them that for 'this type of music' they either needed to get a proper drummer or get rid of the vocals. Ha.
dubnobasswithmyheadman is a journey- a cliche but true- without a weak track or even moment. Setting off with a track that sounds like a bullet train rushing through a city and a storm Dark And Long and then Mmm... Skyscraper, I Love You made turning the disc over to side two difficult. Dirty Epic, Spoonman, Surfboy, all undulating, with blissful production, headrushes, intricate drums, filthy bass and phased guitar chords. The midnight train from Romford. Cowgirl is perfect dry ice filled, back room techno. River Of Bass glides by and then the album surfaces with the beautiful, weightless M.E. Lift off and back to earth. It is an album which seemed to arrive absolutely fully formed, in no way retro, picking up acid house's freedom and promise and pushing it on, progressive and forward thinking, modern. It still sounds like that today.
This is an hour long collage of dubnobass... cuttings from the studio floor. A very smart companion piece.