Album: Beaucoup Fish
Label: JBO Limited and V2 Music Limited
Summary: A fair amount of good crescendo based songs.
This album starts out with Cups, which is for the most part a lengthy, laid back piece of music featuring vocoded vocals, a weak TR-606 esque drum machine, and an electric piano. This relaxing combination makes excellent background music until the end of the song, where it transforms rather unexpectedly into a much louder affair with a heavy beat and confrontational stabs at a thick pad.
Despite a brief intro that appears to consist of Wal-Mart product placement, Jumbo is another solid track. Based around a fun, bouncy bassline, it starts off as a playful tune before building up with some strings to reach a satisfying climax.
King of Snake is likely to be the first song you'll actually remember from this album. It's a punchy number designed to be danced to. A solid four-to-the-floor rhythm keeps everything together, while a quick, repetitive synth sequence of just eight notes of equal length gives it substance. Karl Hyde's vocals are as energetic as they've ever been, and it's tempting to sing along to the few words that are discernible. This song's pretty much guaranteed to get you moving.
Moaner is a classic example of how Underworld have taken the idea of turning a whole piece of music into a slowly rising crescendo, layer upon layer built up into an amazing climax, and turned this formula into an art form. It starts with the usual solid beat and arpeggiated bassline, but it never goes for long before another instrument is added into the mix, then another. A terrifying, screeching noise actually manages to make an excellent hook for this piece of music.
Just when you think your ears can't take any more, it goes back to just the rhythm and bassline, and Karl Hyde starts his speech. Similarly, he starts out sounding like he's talking up close and personal to the microphone, but as the music builds up again, he gets louder and louder until he's shouting amidst a thunderous soundscape. Immersed in all this raw energy, this is the point where you really realise what Underworld do better than anyone else, and how they've earned their unique place in the history of music.
After the second crescendo reaches its scary climax, the song suddenly quietens down again, only without the beat this time. A pad joins the few instruments left, and the album finishes, finally leaving you to take a breath.
Sure, not every song on this album is great, but there are enough good tracks to warrant a listen. For what it's worth, several of them have become firm favourites on my playlist.