JBO - 2002 - 62 minutes

Everyone seemed to be talking about the demise of Underworld. What's that all about? Sure, they're one man down, but those menage-a-trois days are over and it's time to move on. The familiar face of Underworld, Darren Emerson was always going to be a huge loss but with two band members left - no replacement required, thank you very much - the Underworld formula of sweeping techno and shining acid house still equates.

Karl Hyde and Rick Smith are the Underworld of 2002. 'A Hundred Days Off' is a form of re-birth for Hyde and Smith, both in terms of music and attitude. According to their biog… "Enjoyment has been prioritised. Feeling good has been sanctioned." There were early nerves as they began a new era as a duo, but as they found from live performances, the fans were as devoted to the Underworld sound as ever. Ten years on the scene, they've always been headliners and big things that are expected from Underworld are usually delivered, but does this album keep them at the top, or are they about to take alphabetical order?

Opening track 'Mo Move' supplies the album's first lyrics over waves of bass "I dream that I'm chemical…", then the beat kicks in, more layers are added and we know we're in business. 'Two Months Off' is the first single release and it's a monster of a tune that you want to continue forever, best thing is there's nine glorious minutes of it here, as Karl chants repeatedly "You bring light in". It's an instant classic.

Other movers here are the simple but hypnotic 'Luetin' and the aptly-named 'Twist'. Take a break during 'Sola Sistim' but at least tap your feet to the cowboy vibes of 'Trim'. If you wanna sweat your pants off then get rockin' to 'Dinosaur Adventure 3D' - eight minutes of hard, hard techno. The mumbling female vocals on 'Little Speaker' are reminiscent of The Orb's 'Little Fluffy Clouds' but in no way obviously. The treatment here is less regular and rhythmic, but more imaginative.

So, six or seven tracks of worth here. It's a good album, and the music's better than the tripe most clubs churn out, but the first single 'Two Months Off' suggested something out-of-this-world. Still, fans will just be pleased that it's Underworld.

David Byrne

Tracklisting: Mo Move - Two Months Off - Twist - Sola Sistim - Little Speaker - Trim - Ess Gee - Dinosaur Adventure 3D - Ballet Lane - Luetin