Release Date: May 6, 2014
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Synth Pop
Your friend, Ken Scrudato.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. A collaborative album between Brian Eno and Karl Hyde is a very intriguing prospect. It would initially appear that they come from wildly different worlds - Hyde is most well known for his work with Underworld, whilst Eno is notable for his ambient music and production, yet arguably both have a heritage in dance music.
For all the rightful credit that Brian Eno receives for being a sonic innovator who helped bolster the experimental music scenes in Europe, the almost 66-year-old musician/producer has long balanced that with support for more pop/song-driven projects. His 1977 rock album Before and After Science was followed by his gorgeous ambient experiment Music For Airports. His work on U2’s The Unforgettable Fire was only a year away from the ethereal 60-minute composition Thursday Afternoon.
The possibility of Someday World arose when Brian Eno invited Underworld vocalist Karl Hyde to listen to a series of intros he'd been unable to finish. The pair share a love for African horns and rhythms as well as dance music of all stripes. Eno enlisted 22-year-old Fred Gibson as a co-producer, and numerous friends including Andy Mackay and Coldplay's Will Champion.
Where might be the common ground between Karl Hyde, known for his work with the electronic music group Underworld, and Brian Eno, whose background opens up myriad possibilities within a collaboration? For their first album together, plan to park your preconceptions back at the club..
It seems almost like an act of undue treason not to defer to an artist’s stated intention when evaluating their work- especially when that artist happens to be Brian Eno. In the press material for Someday World, his most recent collaboration with Underworld’s Karl Hyde, Eno explained that “a lot of the compositions on the album were deliberately irregular and awkward,” mirroring the stubborn architectural impositions of cities upon unaccommodating geology. Few people could get away with underselling themselves so, and it’s a shame that Eno’s prescience here is too accurate to ignore.
Brian Eno is rarely idle. In 1996 he published a book titled A Year With Swollen Appendices, which detailed his extraordinary life over a 12-month span. Even his quiet days, it seems, have some sense of purpose to them. For the book's September 25 entry, he doesn’t do much at all, aside from noting two phone calls that came through: one from David Bowie, the other from Paul McCartney.
Music is full of tried-and-true formulas, but one that never fails to satisfy is setting solemn emotion to upbeat music. Ambient music innovator Brian Eno and Underworld singer Karl Hyde's first joint album (following a handful of collaborations) isn't exactly a crying-on-the-dance-floor record, but the intention isn't far off. Someday World is an fully realized blend of electronic and acoustic sounds that elevates the mundane, austere details in the lyrics into a state of ecstasy.
From Roxy Music keyboard freak to ambient pioneer, Brian Eno has rarely put a foot wrong. As this collaboration with Underworld’s Karl Hyde shows, he’s also unpredictable: ‘Someday World’ sounds nothing like the previous work of either musician. Essentially a straight-ish rock album that dabbles in electronics and Afrobeat, it sits somewhere between TV On The Radio and New Order but lacks the sophisticated intensity of the former and the sheer hedonistic release of the latter.
While Brian Eno may be better known nowadays as the father of modern recorded ambient music and an acclaimed record producer and engineer of artist such as U2 and Talking Heads, he began his career as a pioneer of art and glam rock with fellow musicians David Bowie and Andy Mackay. His co-conspirator on 2014’s Someday World is Karl Hyde, the frontman of the house/electronica group Underworld and whose career – like Eno’s – extends well over 30 years. In circumspect, the collaboration comes as little surprise: for Hyde, Someday World is an opportune time to expand his already prolific career while experimenting with rock sensibilities; for Eno, who requires no such expansion to his career, it is a return to older forms.
The pairing of Brian Eno and Underworld’s Karl Hyde represents the kind of generational jam-session super-pairing one might expect of a Hall of Fame ceremony, if electronica had such a thing. Whether it’s been worth the wait is an impression that differs somewhat from song to song. Someday World never devolves into Tin Machine-style disaster, but it rarely manages to realize its collaborative potential either.
As you'd expect from a collaboration between a man known for his explorations in ambience (Brian Eno) and another who made his bones playing live techno (Underworld's Karl Hyde), there are jarring moments on Someday World. Opening track The Satellites transforms from a slow-building guitar line into a cheap and chippy wall of keyboard sounds, which are then cloaked in Karl Hyde's signature drone. There is a strange allure in the soundclash, with all the contrasting elements coming together to form an intriguing blend of poppy yet spikey electronica.
If he was merely concerned with his reputation and/or legacy, Brian Eno would never need to make another record. As a musician, a producer, an aphorist, a gadfly, a bon vivant, a guru, a thinker, Eno has contributed more than enough to modern pop culture. But, of course, nothing he’s ever said or done really leaves one with the impression that he’s ever going to leave well enough alone.
On paper, a collaboration between Brian Eno and Underworld's Karl Hyde released on Warp Records is an exciting proposition, indeed. What's more, on Someday World, Eno is not just in a glorified producer role, as you might expect, but is very much a collaborator, playing keys, piano and adding vocals throughout. Unfortunately, the resulting album is a disappointingly pedestrian affair.
It’s a wonder it took until 2011 for electronic visionaries Brian Eno and Karl Hyde to collaborate. Each having displayed a deep appreciation for experimentation, the two joined for the fidgety electro-jazz of Underworld’s 2011 “Beebop Hurry”, which led to Eno’s ambient rework of Hyde’s 2013 solo single “Slummin’ It for the Weekend”. With each artist already steeped in accolades and nearing the age of retirement, their nine-track collaborative LP, Someday World, is an exercise in camaraderie and complimentary artistic nuances.
The first album-length collaboration from Brian Eno and Underworld frontman Karl Hyde has the slickness of Eighties pop, the tricky melodies of modern indie and the appeal of neither. Eno has boasted of the album's "deliberately irregular and awkward" constructions, which could apply to the goofy synth horns, the bone-dry guitars or the herky-jerk vocals that call to mind dead-eyed versions of acts like Dirty Projectors and Vampire Weekend. "When I Built This World," a minimalist suite that feels like it's made for strings and Nintendo, is weirdly gorgeous, but otherwise this just sounds like two electronic greats e-mailing dorm-room demos.
On paper at least, ‘Someday World’ sounds an exciting prospect, a coming together of two of electronic music’s biggest and well-known names. On the one hand we have Brian Eno, a man whose talents have aided countless musicians such as U2 and Coldplay over the past three decades, cementing him firmly into musical history as a sought after producer and his hefty portfolio of solo ambient work. In contrast there is Karl Hyde, whose more recent output with Underworld has been patchy to say the least.The project, one that sees Eno create the musical frameworks in which Hyde is then responsible for filling, is most politely described as experimental at best and at its worst, messy.
The collaboration of experimental super-producer Brian Eno and Underworld’s unconstrained vocalist Karl Hyde for the album Someday World is a dream pairing. The longstanding artists have the reputation of coloring outside the lines, using visual and emotional elements as part of their music-making process as much as instruments—both conventional and otherwise. Corralling the youthful Fred Gibson as co-producer, Someday World isn’t a couple of old geezers indulging themselves—but it’s not as groundbreaking as one would expect from creators of this caliber.
For a wallow in obsessive love, it’s hard to top “Your Love Is Killing Me” on Sharon Van Etten’s fourth album, “Are We There” (Jagjaguwar). Its opening drumbeat echoes from deep down or far away; organ chords suggest hymnlike devotion, and a lone guitar note only illuminates the emptiness around it. As a full band surges in, Ms. Van Etten sings about a passion that not even mutilation can deter: “Break my legs so I won’t run to you/Steal my soul so I am one with you,” she sings.
Brian Eno’s good reputation rests heavily on the idea he is a man of process: a creatively playful soul, just one split of an Oblique Strategies deck away from his next game-changing artistic breakthrough. A little scrutiny of his latter-day discography, however, doesn’t exactly bear this out. The last thing I can really remember enjoying from his recent creations is Bloom, the simple but immersive generative iOS app he made with Peter Chilvers back in 2008.