These days, Underworld
is synonymous with techno
This wasn't always so.
Case in point, Underworld's first effort, Underneath The Radar. I first heard the title track when I was, oh, eight or nine I think (the album was released in 1988), and was immediately captivated. Here was all this wavery pop slush on the radio, and then there was this strange, warped, cool and exciting synth music with a British singer who had an interesting voice. I immediately went out and bought the album; it was the first I ever owned.
After that first album, Underworld disappeared from my musical radar. I cherished that tape; I wore it out. I figured that Underworld had ended up a one-hit wonder, despite their incredible talent and innovation. They'd just been too weird, in a decade known for weird music (case in point: the goth music scene -- founded on '80s bands, even techno is pop by comparison). I searched for Underneath the Radar on CD for years; never found it.
Imagine my suprise when, in 1997, I heard the singer's voice at a techno club in Australia. Doing a song that I hadn't heard before; one which was obviously in the modern trance style -- dubnobasswithmyheadman. And then they played the title track off Underneath the Radar, which caused me to stand in shock for a moment before I started dancing again. I found my treasured CD copy of Underneath the Radar in the bargain bin of a mall music store franchise in Townsville a few weeks later. This CD I'd been searching for for ten years, a relic of my childhood, in an Aussie bargain bin! My joy knew no bounds!
Needless to say, I recommend Underneath the Radar quite highly. It's not your usual Underworld fare; it's more like a transition state between techno and synthpop. There are no instrumentals. But it's wonderful. It's all wonderful. Every track is good. You can listen to it right through. There's music on there for every mood. Go buy it, right now. If you can find it.