Underworld became one of the most crucial electronic acts of the 1990s with a progressive synthesis of old and new, an approach that has served them well through the late 2010s. The trio's two-man front line, vocalist Karl Hyde and keyboard player Rick Smith, have been recording together since the early-'80s new wave explosion.
After the pair released a pair of obscure rock albums, they hit it big the following decade with new recruit Darren Emerson. Traditional song forms were jettisoned in favor of Hyde's heavily treated vocals, barely-there whispering, and surreal wordplay, stretched out over the urban breakbeat trance ripped out by Emerson and company while Hyde's cascade of guitar-shard effects provided a bluesy foil to the stark music.
The first album by the trio, Dubnobasswithmyheadman (1993), appeared to a flurry of critical acclaim and reached number 12 in their native U.K. Second Toughest in the Infants (1996), the group's following LP, updated their sound slightly, scraped the Top Ten, and remained on the chart for over eight months, thanks in part to a boost they received from appearing on the soundtrack of the seminal Trainspotting.
Although that has remained the group's commercial peak, Underworld continued to record challenging and well-received albums, as well as soundtrack material, amid numerous solo pursuits.
Ninth album Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future (2016) earned Underworld their first Grammy nomination, after which they collaborated with Iggy Pop for Teatime Dub Encounters (2018). read more
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