Saturday, October 21, 2006

An Underworld by any other name...

Freur - Doot Doot (Pre-Underworld)

Never ceases to amaze me how many people assume that the early '90s groundbreaking electronica band Underworld just spontaneously generated with "Dubnobasswithmyheadman." Fact is Welshman Karl Hyde has been at this a long time. His first - hideously neglected and coifed - band was the art school damaged Freur ('83-'86). (The name is actually the "sound" of the squiggle that signifies the band. Long before Prince got jiggly with it, Freur had no name.) They released two albums, though the second one didn't see light outside of Germany and Holland.

Underneath the Radar - Underworld (Version 1)

After dismal sales (and one mild single "Doot Doot"), Freur broke up. Karl emerged in the later '80s with Underworld ('88-'90). It was a funk synth heart attack. He played up the bass and the cowboy image (Anton Corbijn recycled the look with Depeche Mode a few years later). They released two albums - the second drifting even further into traditional rock territory. Underworld was a commercial bust as well.

That changed of course with the release of "Dubnobasswithmyheadman" mixing Hyde's penchant for whispered surrealist lyrics with acid house electronica. What is most interesting is what didn't change. Listening to Freur now you can hear glimmers of Underworld's ambient soundscapes while the more traditional Underworld (version 1) hints at the driving bass the later version would use to propel tracks like the epic "Cowgirl".

1 comment:

megh said...

when i was 16 i found a way-overpriced copy of "Underneath the Radar" in a WOM in Berlin. severely deficient in 80s music appreciation, i don't think i listened to the whole thing even once, and have long since sold it.

clearly, i must invest in this venture again. in other words, omg!!! karl hyde is amaaaaazing!!! then now forever magic. hee.

y'all got me sidelinked--thanks, i appreciate it.