“Listen To Their No” single
Underworld have seemingly been around forever. Karl Hyde and Rick Smith have been making music together for almost 40 years, forming as a pretty mediocre synth-pop band in the 80s, before morphing into the legendary DJ/techno set they’ve become in the early 90s. Their first album in their new iteration, 1994’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman, was an instant classic, but they are most famous for their contribution to the Trainspotting soundtrack, ‘Born Slippy Nuxx,’ from 1996.
It would be massively unfair to boil down their entire 25-year career to this track, as killer as it is. They’ve run the gamut, from the mellow, rave downs of Dubnobasswithmyheadman, and its successor, Second Toughest in the Infants, to the raved up techno of Beaucoup Fish in 1999.
The 00s were a mixed bag for them, up and down, with some incredible output early in the decade tailing off by the end. Thus, 2016’s Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future was such a wonderful surprise, starting with the superlative opening banger, ‘I Exhale,’ all the way to the end, ‘Nylon Strung.’ Then last year, they teamed up with Iggy Pop for the (mostly) excellent Tea Time Dub Encounters EP.
Since then, they’ve kept busy, our lads. Last fall, they launched their Drift Project, which sees a new release from them every Thursday, whether in film, music, or text, as they record their next album, Drift Songs, which will see the light of day on 25 October.
‘Listen To Their No’ is the first official single from Drift Songs, though it’s been quickly followed by two more tracks, ‘Schiphol Test’ and ‘Hundred Weight Hammer.’ ‘Listen’ is pure 100% Underworld, and it is Underworld at their best. It’s amazing to think that this late into their career, as Hyde and Smith reach into late middle age (they’ve both breached their 60s), they can still do this. We’ve got a pulsating drum and bass beat, complete with sunny techno sounds that recall the golden days of the rave scene thirty years ago, and over that Hyde’s voice floats, droning, and sliding over the beat. This is 5 minutes and 48 seconds of gloriousness, of feeling like you’re not middle aged, old, fat, in debt, worried about things you never thought you would worry about, and wondering just how in the fuck life didn’t work out like you thought it would when you were 22. In other words, just what any middle-aged schmuck needs right about now.