Underworld: Live: Everything, Everything

Underworld: Live: Everything, Everything

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Underworld

Album: Live: Everything, Everything
Label: JBO/V2

For some, the notion of a live album by an electronic act just doesn't add up. But the best electronic groups always offer something different in a live setting. Even so, the last prominent live release from an electronic artist came out back in 1993, when the Orb released its double-disc ambient-techno opus Live 93. That album didn't leave much of a mark on the world, but neither has the Orb—at least in America. Underworld is a different story. The trio of Darren Emerson, Karl Hyde, and Rick Smith hit it big when its song "Born Slippy [Nuxx]" reached the Top 40 on the basis of its placement on the Trainspotting soundtrack. But even before that, the group had earned a reputation as a strong live draw, whether in cramped little clubs or at sprawling outdoor raves. To its credit, Live: Everything, Everything does a good job displaying the group's qualities that set it apart from the strictly DJ-and-DAT set. Beginning with the epic "Juanita/Kiteless" from its breakthrough album Second Toughest In The Infants, Underworld shows its ability to tweak melodies and programming without losing a sense of the songs' original structure. Then there's Hyde, for all intents and purposes the group's singer but more accurately its focal point. While Emerson (who has since amicably left the group) and Smith hide behind the mixing boards, dropping surprise after surprise into songs such as "Pearls Girl" and "Push Upstairs," Hyde spouts off vaguely poetic non-sequiturs, giving the listener an organic (albeit abstract) element to hold onto amidst the bleeps and beats. Obviously, listening to this document isn't a substitute for Underworld's relentless show, but by the time it gets to an almost unrecognizable version of its hit, it's at least clarified the distinction between the rigid arrangements of recorded music and the thrill of live performance. If the former setting is a showcase for Underworld's tricky technique and composition, the latter highlights its raw energy and ingenuity.