Friday, October 06, 2023

The Day Underworld Went Acappella

Underworld go beatless on ‘denver luna (acappella)’ – possibly a source of angst – the title is at pains to add the parenthetical, possibly to reassure fans that they know this isn’t standard fare.

On the other hand, I’d be surprised if this wasn’t establishing the mise en scène for a future release. Maybe it’s a two-minute teaser trailer, or maybe it’s just something Karl Hyde needed to get off his chest.

The song teases and strains towards drops, and we wait and wait like gooseberries for a tough beat to tiptoe into the frame. We expect any minute to be gripped fulsomely by the gut and have our brain levered from our heads in a manner we might usually associate with Underworld. That anticipation does something else to us though, and the slightly unresolved dissolution of the track into silence at the end leaves a stirring late-night pathos that Underworld have always wielded alongside their beatmaking anyway. 

What we do get is a starry scape of voices as Karl Hyde is shattered into pitched-up and down strands of melody, tying themselves together in this haunting zero-gravity, zero-kick, environment. The many Hydes interact with an affected tentativeness as they seem to reach around generatively for the next word in that slightly slam poet-y way he has. 

I’d have thought this would definitely be of interest to those particular fans of ‘sad robot voice’ songs à la Bon Iver’s '715 - CRΣΣKS' or Imogen Heap’s 'Hide and Seek' – though it’s perhaps not quite as devastating as those two manage to be. 

Rory Calland
Image: ‘denver luna (accapella)’ Official Single Cover

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