Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Oblivion with Bells
Side One Recordings

The disc was in hand as my fingers trembled with anticipation. It had been five years since I have had this feeling. As I put the disc in I was not sure what to expect. In my opinion these guys have a lot to live up to. The last album, A Hundred Days Off was good. It was no Beaucoup Fish, but it was good to say the least. The there was that online series they ran over the last year, but to be honest that was really hit or miss. I think everyone can agree on that. Now this, this is a full-length album. So I put it in. Here is what I discovered.

Oblivion with Bells is a journey and needs to be experienced as a whole. Member Karl Hyde (the vocalist madman) and Rick Smith (the man behind the board) have really put together an album that unveils a wide range of emotion and music. The album opener “Crocodile” begins with light little arpeggios and softly textured synthesizer. Slowly this builds and builds until an immense array of orchestral and atmospheric sound hit you in the face. It was just beautiful. Crocodile is not your typical lengthy opener in true underworld fashion. While this song is on the short side, it is a definite throw back to the yester years of the Beaucoup Fish era. Synthesized vocals, solid kick drums and a seriously bottom heavy bass line, now this is how Underworld is supposed to sound. “Crocodile” presented itself as a fresh start for Oblivion with Bells by reminding me of what Underworld is known for. Quality. Needless to say I was captivated. From there I ventured to “Beautiful Burnout”, the second entry on this opus. Same as before, a soft entrance followed by a traditional build, followed by an ever so slightly alternating synth line. At the first bridge this songs grabs you when Karl drops a cryptic, bass accented and wonderfully vocoded lyre that is simply soul shattering. This reminded me very much of the passion I found in Underworld’s epic song “Juanita” during the “Second toughest in the Infants” era. Like “Juanita” this was the song that brought it all home for me. This is what I wanted to hear. This is the Underworld I knew. This is the Underworld I loved.

Many a fan of Underworld will know that their song writing styles can very from very aggressive to very passive. Such is not the case on this album. Oblivion with Bells is simply passive. Even the songs that feel like they might turn into another “Born Slipppy” or something of the like, don’t. They just remain as they started. Chill.  Ever since that first listen I have found that this record was best enjoyed during those relaxed down time moments. Those times when you are driving at night with no traffic, a lack red lights and plenty of time to yourself. During those times this album was just perfect.

Without revealing too much information and spoiling the album I would like too touch on a few more key points. There is a little something for everyone with Oblivion with bells. Underworld has never really been a straightforward “techno” band, but more on that “eclectic electro” tip. That is to say they transcend genres. If you like dark soothing ambient electro, you will find that on this album. Or if you like your electro on the trip hop side of life, well you will find that hear too.  Like I said, the album is relaxing and emotionally charged. There are some points that tend to drag, but for the most part the entire entity is top notch. Oblivion with Bells takes you to a familiar place. A place that fans know and love.

Pagan’s Ratings

01. Crocodile ***
02. Beautiful Burnout *****
03. Holding The Moth ****
04. To Heal ****
05. Ring Road **
06. Glam Bucket ****
07. Boy, Boy, Boy ***
08. Cuddle Bunny vs The Celtic Villages ***
09. Faxed Invitation ****
10. Good Morning Cockerel ****
11. Best Mamgu Ever***

Average rating 4 stars

- Alex Pagan

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