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-- Mark Watt

Underworld
Beaucoup Fish
(V2)

One of the hottest items on today's dance music scene is Underworld's latest album. All this hype and eager anticipation stems largely from their hit dance track, "Born Slippy," a song that most people only know as "that Trainspotting song." Beaucoup Fish elevates Underworld beyond one-hit-wonder status and establishes the band as a successful synthesis of dance and pop music. With eerie vocals and guitar-based harmonies, the booming drumbeat of Beaucoup reaches from the dance floor to your living room, giving your ears a lot more than the average dose of techno, trance, and house. Comprised of a DJ, a singer-songwriter, and a guitarist/engineer, Underworld's songs are a unique synthesis of pop, electronic, and industrial music. They do not make the perfectly mixed, beat-matched machine productions that DJs spin at clubs; they make techno music with a human soul. DJ Darren Emerson's hard-hitting, edgy drumbeats are complemented by the tormented lyrics delivered by Karl Hyde's dramatic voice. United by Rick Smith's engineering and musical composition, the three members of Underworld capture the full range of emotions in their music. On "Cups" the strong, steady, yet subtle groove is the perfect accompaniment for haunted, chanted mumbling. Even the lack of coherency in the vocals accentuates the total effect of the song. Like most of the album, "Kittens" is a bass-heavy dance song in which the melody purrs out the notes of a stomping house anthem. Revealing the funky side of the band, "Bruce Lee" is a catchy, playful song with witty, light-hearted lyrics and an up-tempo beat. "Skym" is a morose, gentle ballad whose simplicity and sincerity are utterly moving. The reduction of this song to lyrics and harmony without a drum line transforms Hyde's voice into a ghostly dirge about love. Carving a wide slice out of the psychological spectrum, this album does what few DJ compilations manage, because each song expresses an entirely different facet of the human personality. While today's electronic music pounds out rhythm after rhythm, Beaucoup Fish pounds, growls, sings, murmurs, skips, hops, and jumps all around essential human feelings. Quite an accomplishment indeed.

-- Kino McGregor

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