This is the last Underworld album that comprised the original trio of Karl Hyde, Rick Smith and DJ Darren Emerson, the latter of who would depart the group in 2000. Obviously, things were not very rosy as Darren Emerson himself left due to financial arrangements within the group. This makes Beaucoup Fish the last real Underworld album of note. Given the successes of the first two albums, this should be interesting to listen to and hopefully as exciting as the previous two albums. Let’s hear it.
Cups is a nearly 12-minute long piece. It begins with some unusual and slightly eerie string sounds. These sound a little discordant. Eventually, a single note is sustained, which is quickly followed by a rhythmic TR-808 style Roland pattern. Some beats then emerge, and we are underway. This comes across as a minimal House/Techno piece with some flavoursome sounds. Some beeps enter, which are nice. Karl Hyde sings through a vocoder patch on this track, which is very unusual. Very catchy and good listening, this is an enjoyable ride so far. The lyrics are difficult to pinpoint with such a distorted vocal, but the track and singing match each other very well. This is a minimalist delight, as opposed to other forms of EDM, which quite clearly are not minimalist. There are some nicely deployed guitar parts buried underneath the main groove, which add some interesting sound to the mix. A very good tune, although some may not appreciate the repetitive nature of the music. Very catchy and futuristic sounding, this is a good track overall. A very interesting and great tune to launch the album with. There are snatches of vocoder talk in and out of the mix. The second half of the track has more buried guitar parts for your pleasure, and this is a good listening experience. Eventually, beats that are unconventional enter and some of the other melodies are replaced by some gritty, low-end frequencies. This newer groove is isolated and has some other sounds built over the top of it. A really great and excellent tune, this is a strong start to this Underworld album. A newer groove then continues, with some strange vocal samples. An excellent 11 plus minutes to spend if you have time, it is a fantastic listen from start to finish. There is a false ending before this track properly concludes, great effort guys.
Push Upstairs was deemed to be good enough to be put onto the first Underworld compilation. That is proof that the track is quite good. Beginning with more minimal sounds, including thumping basslines and piano, along with beats, this sounds exciting. This is a very catchy piece of music, and it has lasted very well. It’s lyrically about sex and other similar imagery. In the second half are some rather awful melody lines, but this can be easily overlooked as the rest of the song is really great. A great listening experience, and not bad, even if it is not the best Underworld track ever. Not bad.
Jumbo is a better song than the last one. It begins with some stereo panned smooth electronic sounds. Some American guys in an outside environment do some talking, before a very catchy and excellent Electronic groove kickstarts this tune. Once again, this is the more minimal side of Underworld, but minimalism suits Underworld’s musical sensibilities perfectly. A really different and awesome listen throughout. The electronic sounds are clever, interesting and nicely layered on this track. Towards the middle of the track are some pretty ethereal sounds that take you to musical heaven unlike anywhere else. A fantastic piece that was also on the Underworld 1992-2002 compilation, and deservedly so. A really awesome effort with many clever and subtle musical touches, the melodicism here is absolutely brilliant. This is the sort of music you can close your eyes and meditate to. More vocal samples of the guys in an outside environment are present, before the repeated loops and melodies that teleport you into the future and to amazing places capture your imagination. The track ends with a lengthy and gentle fade-out, great effort.
Shudder / King Of Snake begins with loose guitar parts that are electronically edited. This is definitely unusual, but a good listen as an introduction part to this album. Before long, a single note melody enters before the lyric, “King of Snake” is spoken. A Donna Summer style I Feel Love electronic dual patch groove then enters, which is a definite nod to the past of music, always a good thing. Some interesting percussion kicks in, and we are underway. This gradually builds up, and just sounds really awesome listening. Many intricate and decent sections are present, from the cut-up vocals, piano, crafty percussion and driven bassline throughout. These make the song come alive, overall it sounds fantastic. Karl Hyde’s singing here sounds very assertive, borderline aggressive. References lyrically to Tom and Jerry, and drinking until one goes pink are present on this track. A very good and driven piece of music exists here, and this is worth dancing to if you are in the situation to do so. A fine and great listen that doesn’t lose one’s interest throughout this track. In the second half, everything apart from Karl Hyde’s vocals and the gritty groove are wound down, before the beats and other melodies return nicely. A very good job overall, this sounds uplifting and minimal, yet fun. The track then begins slowly wrapping up as the single note melody re-enters from the start of the track. At the end of the track, are some spoken words that discuss the nature of the “snake”, which is open to interpretation. Good tune, though.
Winjer begins with some unusual beat time signatures, with some intermissionary cut-up sounds and textures. This is a more experimental piece of music that continues the minimalism of the rest of the album but sounds a little odd. A really decent piece of music though, this sounds really calm and casual listening. This is a good tune that is driven by more nonsensical lyrics, and the music surrounds the lyrics and supports them well. An interesting listen, Karl Hyde tells the listener to take their top off. Towards the end are looped vocals, patched by the unusual percussion section. A very good effort.
Skym begins with a faded intro with some rather dark melodies. This is a strange piece of music and it sounds rather like Joy Division. Karl Hyde puts his emotional energy into this song and just sounds really fantastic in doing so. A slow burner for sure, this is a really unusual sort of track from Underworld. It is obviously not their best, yet all the same is quite interesting. This track probably can be skipped if you are feeling lazy, it’s not really worth your time. A really strange and unusual piece of music, more about textural trickery than an actual piece of music, however. It’s okay, but not fantastic.
Bruce Lee begins with a brief vocal sample before a strange yet funky groove enters. A really interesting and cool tune named after the famous martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. It sounds rather weird, but has a strangely hypnotic value to the sound. A really interesting and dramatic piece of music that has a great feel to it, this is certainly an unusual piece, but nonetheless is really awesome. In the middle are some additional percussion textures, repeated vocal samples and basic melodies to hold your interest very well. More vocal samples enter in the second half, which is really cool. A very decent and awesome listen, this is definitely not your typical 4/4 beat-based Underworld track. Genuinely great music is here. The track ends with looped guitar feedback. Different.
Kittens is a more lengthy piece at seven and a half minutes long. It begins with cut up digital sounds, before going straight into a percussion-heavy and distorted groove. This is a minimal piece for sure, but despite that, it retains the energy and interest throughout this track. This is ideal music for that thrilling Saturday night out and about, it just has that amount of drama and energy that sounds really fantastic. Soon enough, the percussion stops and some Acid-based sounds and textures enter. A really cool and interesting tune, this is a wonderful and upbeat listen that does not bore. Towards the middle of the track are some rather warped melody sections that sound odd, whilst the percussion gets louder and louder in the mix. A very cool tune, the beats and percussion stop in the second half for some electronic textures to emerge and do their thing. This continues for some time and sounds really awesome. These textures are a little unusual for Underworld. Soon enough, some nicely stereo panned sounds enter along with drum rolls. The beats then re-enter towards the end, and this piece grooves well all the way to the end. It ends with more dramatic sweeps and a great finish. Excellent work.
Push Downstairs begins with some distant recording of a phone call before some keyboard patch sounds enter. Some basic hi-hats then follow, along with additional gritty textures that enter smoothly. The lyrics from the other Push Upstairs tune from before are thrown into this tune, but all the same, this is a different beast altogether. It just sounds rather bizarre and different, and although this is a different tune, it is rather needlessly unoriginal and repetitive listening. It seems that these guys were running out of puff towards the end of the 1990s, in more ways than one. Anyway, this track is easy to skip and only needs to be heard once. It goes into a different sounding section totally after the lyrics are finished, making this a bit more interesting. It’s still not a great tune and only adds to the length of the already long album. Still, not terrible, but not fantastic, either. It ends with a single note synth keyboard sound.
Something Like A Mama is next, with some interesting multitracked bass guitar sounds. Before long, Karl Hyde sings about some strange imagery, followed quickly by some interesting breakbeats. This is an uplifting and different listen and is a definite improvement on the track before it. It sounds sensual and great listening throughout. The descending basslines and other musical touches make this track a different and interesting listen throughout. Towards the middle are some cut-up female vocals before Karl Hyde begins singing over cut-up breakbeats. Okay, as you can tell, this is somewhat repetitive, but enjoyably so. In the second half are some muffled sounds of bass guitar and beats, whilst some electric guitar plays, which is interesting. A really gorgeous, interesting and different piece of music, it could have been edited a little lengthwise, but otherwise, is a good listening experience. A cool and awesome listen that will make you move in appreciation of this track. The piece ends with some strange sounds, cleverly mixed in together. Good work.
Moaner is the last track on this album. It is more minimalistic music, and the piece has 4/4 beats, interesting Techno styled Acid sounds and some other textures to grab your attention. This piece isn’t that great, sadly. In addition, it ends the album on a sour note. The track sounds like rubbish, if it were not here, the quality of the album would be vastly better. The high pitched screeching electronic sound does not help, either and is designed to annoy you. The whole track needs to be junked, this is awful. Although some of the editing on this track is excellent, the sounds here are atrocious. Singing about God knows what, Karl Hyde and the boys destroy the last several minutes of the album with a truly atrocious tune. The whole thing gets more intense and really ordinary at the climax of this song. Just listening to this one is really depressing overall to hear, and it should have never been on the Underworld 1992-2002 compilation. It ends with a minute or so of electronic textures, which again, is unnecessary. Fortunately, this ends with a quick fade out.
This album is a good, yet not great album that is quite clearly patchy in terms of musical quality overall. Is it worth listening to and/or owning? Only if you are really into EDM and you dig Underworld. Otherwise, this is a good album that could have been bettered for a more mainstream approach. Even so, minimalism isn’t a bad thing in music from time to time.
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