A Hundred Days Off
hat is it with these guys? Even after losing a key player in their success, Darren Emerson, Underworld (Rick Smith and Karl Hyde) not only still keeps it together, but they release their best album since Dubnobasswithmyheadman.
A Hundred Days Off is nothing different for Underworld. In fact, it sounds like pretty much like everything else they have ever done, but instead of replicating, they continue to do what they know how to do. Like always, Underworld take you on a journey to some wonderful place that is filled with strobe lights and plenty of spinning around, but instead of feeling sick, your stomach and head feels excited and overwhelmed by all of the different layers of sound hitting you at once. There are dance numbers, ambient soundscapes and even a downtempo joint bordering on hip hop (“Solo Sistim”). The line between art and dance has not been crossed either way, but remains in neutral territory where it won’t be tempted to lean either way. While you might not have the bounciness of “Jumbo” or the insane pop stylings of “Born Slippy (Nuxx)”, this album shines in many other ways.
“Two Months Off”, the appropriate first single, is pure magic that somehow seems to incorporate the creepy music that Goblin made for Argento’s Suspiria without feeling creepy at all. Hyde’s vocals are difficult to figure out, but they have warmth and sincerity to give that extra kick for the dancefloor. When they do become more apparent on a track like “Trim”, which points out a mixture of fried chicken and Coca-Cola, you have to wonder if it’s better not to pay attention to his words and just enjoy the colourful tone of his voice. “Ess Gee” is the biggest departure, but seems to come at the perfect time. A simple duo of soft guitar riffs is all it is, but it doesn’t seem out of place because, hey, when has Underworld ever been predictable.
It’s tough to say what Darren Emerson brought to the trio, because really, it doesn’t seem like anything is missing on A Hundred Days Off. He always seemed to be the one more into creating dance music, while Hyde and Smith were the experimental, progressive kooks, but that isn’t the case here. This record will make you dance even more than the first three, which is important, because throughout the strangeness of Underworld dancing is what they’re all about.
Reviewed by: Cam Lindsay
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01