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Dubnobasswithmyheadman (Super Deluxe) [20th Anniversary Remaster]

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This ambitious 1994 album will leave you in a sweating, swirling, ecstatic trance. Bringing on DJ Darren Emerson was a brilliant move by Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, whose rock inclinations get completely submerged in endless textures of ambient echoes, throbbing bass, buzzing synths, and scattered breakbeats. Hyde's dark, monotone moan—often multi-tracked—snakes its way through beats that drive relentlessly forward. Propulsive, yet fluid and melodic, this is dance music that both electronic heads and indie rockers can agree on.

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The greatest techno album of all time...

“Thunder, thunder, lightning ahead, hummm. Will you kiss me dark and long?”

So whispers Karl Hyde at the beginning of Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Underworld‘s loopily titled audio odyssey and breakout techno album of 1994. Prior to its release no one had heard anything like it, with its blend of sawing analog synths and surreal cut-up poetry, its rush of futuristic rock and breakbeat rhythms. By the time it soaked into DJ sets and the listening press, Underworld were underground superstars.

Formed by Hyde and Rick Smith, old mates from Cardiff Art College in Wales, Underworld had already made a run at musical success in the 1980s. Originally as the band Freur, they penned the new wave gem ‘Doot Doot.’ They even toured with the Eurythmics as an industrial funk outfit. But with each turn they found themselves with little money and diminishing prospects.

In between their commercial ups and downs, Hyde cut out a wayward living as a session guitarist, first at Prince’s Paisley Park studio in Minneapolis. When he moved to New York City to tour with Blondie’s Debbie Harry, he began to scissor the Village Voice newspaper and rearrange his own phrases into lyrics. On a parallel track back in England, Smith had teamed up with Darren Emerson, a young DJ who knew the ins and outs of dance music. When Hyde returned, they fused his wordplay and guitar licks with their electronics, using techno as the dominant force for their chimera music.

In 1992, they played a legendary 18-hour set at the Glastonbury Music Festival in the Experimental Sound Field, freewheeling from a tower stage placed in the middle of a blissed-out crowd, quadraphonic speakers and Pink Floyd's control desk blasting them all to a new frontier. Underworld could write songs, but they were first and foremost composers who knew how to jam live with power to the people. Dubnobass perfectly crystallized this expansive, blistering dynamic.

First on vinyl, Underworld’s manifesto ignited dance floors across the globe. The outtake single ‘Rez’ added to the buzz, an instant anthem of instrumental youth music and an unforgettable merry-go-round of sound. Everyone who knows it remembers where they were the first time they heard its oscillating strings of zipping fire. And as one of the early techno albums to hit the compact disc format, Dubno flashed onto discmans and car stereos with equal heat. It was a headphone epic as well as a cool night drive.

With Dubno, the energetic magic of ‘Rez’ was spread across a whole album, yielding inventive cuts of what sounded like the glorious end of pop music. Hyde’s lines like “Whiplash Willy the motor psycho” and “Here comes Christ on crutches” were humorous and dark, floating above synth riffs or crashing through a haze of textures — impressionistic images painted onto the wild sonic shapes conjured by Smith and Emerson.

‘Dark & Long,’ ‘Mmm Skyscraper I Love You,’ ‘Surfboy,’ ‘Spoonman,’ ‘Tongue,’ ‘Cowgirl,’ ‘Dirty Epic,’ ‘River of Bass,’ ‘M.E.’ — each were bold statements in their own right yet essential pieces in a seamless nocturnal symphony. By the time one got to the romantic ‘Dirty Epic’ and stood at the pearly gates of ‘Cowgirl,’ Hyde frantically repeating “I’m invisible, and a razor of love,” you were no longer listening as a bystander. You were wrapped up inside something bigger.

“Everything, everything, everything,” Hyde sings to the futuristic hoedown of ecstatic rhythms before leaving you dazed in a cloud of sparks and pinball melodies. Was it dance rock? Was it techno for the masses? Was it pop music for the next millennium, its post-modern poetry raining down through an electronic ether? Dubnobasswithmyheadman was all those things, and more. It was the Beatnik jam session of a new generation.

NOTE: This new 20-year anniversary edition includes the rave generation's own "ode to joy" -- "Rez" -- their many smart remixes of "Cowgirl" and "Dirty Epic" (including samples from the anime classic "Akira"), many fascinating demos and live renditions, like the excellent "Concord" and "Improv 1" respectively, the surprising treasure "Eclipse," their powerful "Spikee" and "Dogman Go Woof" single, and Rick Smith's world-class instrumental remixes of Dark & Long ("Dark Train," "Thing In A Book," and "Burt's"), arguably three of the best and headiest dance floor tracks of all time. You can't beat it.

*not clear if it is included in this digital version, but the box set includes a wonderful essay by none other than Jon Savage, doyen of the history of punk and other popular music evolutions.

Bladerunner on the dance floor

Arguably the best dance album ever! You'll move, you'll dream; it will inspire. Buy it, put on headphones and take this journey.

Missing Dark & Long- Spoon Deep Mix

Excellent album that is missing one of the most epic songs by Underworld- Dark & Long (Spoon Deep). Despite that a most excellent collection.

Biography

Formed: 1988 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Underworld became one of the most crucial electronic acts of the 1990s via an intriguing synthesis of old and new. The trio's two-man front line, vocalist Karl Hyde and keyboard player Rick Smith, had been recording together since the early-'80s new wave explosion; after two unsuccessful albums released as Underworld during the late '80s, the pair finally hit it big after recruiting Darren Emerson, a young DJ hipped to the sound of techno and trance. Traditional pop song forms were jettisoned in...
Full Bio
Dubnobasswithmyheadman (Super Deluxe) [20th Anniversary Remaster], Underworld
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