Underworld 1992-2012 The Anthology
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The departure of Darren Emerson prior to the release of 2002’s A Hundred Days Off album could’ve signaled the beginning of the end for Underworld. While his contributions were undoubtedly essential in galvanizing the group’s genre-defining techno and abstract electronica of the 90’s, Underworld continued on to fully realize its panoramic sonic capabilities in the last decade at the hands of its core duo of Rick Smith and Karl Hyde.Spanning 3 CDs, Anthology is luxurious- capturing glorious pieces from 1994’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman through 2010’s Barking album rendering the previous ‘hits’ collection, 1992-2002, obsolete in the process. CD1 covers the sacred early territory including the brooding “Mmm, Skyscraper I Love You,” the punishing “Cowgirl,” the mournful “Dirty Epic,” and “Dark and Long (Dark Train)”- the quintessential archetype for the techno genre. CD2 opens with many people’s gateway track to the band: the crushing 1996 juggernaut that is “Born Slippy.” 1999’s Beaucoup Fish album had the unenviable task of following up the Trainspotting centerpiece and is represented by “Jumbo” and the manic freight train “Moaner.” “Push Upstairs” and especially “Shudder: King of Snake” are more than deserving representations of this underrated album yet they are omitted. “Two Months Off” may be the group’s single most important track as it urgently, joyously declares with soaring harmonies and cascading, sun-drenched synths that Smith and Hyde would be just fine a duo. “To Heal” is a symphonic masterpiece which crystallizes the warmth and humanity that has pervaded Underworld’s post-Emerson works. “Scribble” is a surprising selection from the Barking album that also features the slow simmering Dubfire co-production, “Bird 1” and the irrepressible “Always Loved a Film.” CD3 is a deeper but maybe non-essential exploration of some of the band’s rarities. The highlight is the heavy, monolithic “Second Hand” which featured on the Café del Mar Volume 1 compilation. Other notable tracks include the dazzling acid workout “Why, Why, Why,” the rising jam “Parc (Live)” and spacious, meditative “Simple Peal” which were all previously only available on Japanese imports.