Techno rock group
For the British ensemble Underworld, merging past and present—as well as chilly synthesizer-driven nuances with genuine emotive soul into futuristic rhythms—has resulted in a critically praised and commercially viable series of records. The band, wrote Barry Walters in Rolling Stone, “create darkly physical grooves that seduce psyche, body and soul without resorting to instant hooks or easily understood concepts.” Though they gained fame when two of their songs were included in the hit 1996 film Trainspotting, the forming members of Underworld, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, had been making music together for several years already. Both were accomplished songwriters and engineers who were well-versed in cutting-edge electronic instrumentation and production styles.
Hyde and Smith met at an art college in Cardiff, Wales, England, around 1980. Hyde has played guitar since the age of eleven and been in numerous bands, while the Welsh-born Smith was raised in a household headed by his minister father, and was heavily influenced by gospel music as a result. Smith also played the piano, and as
Members include Darren Emerson (born c. 1971), turntables; Karl Hyde (born c. 1958), guitars, vocals; and Rick Smith (born c. 1960, in Wales, England), keyboards.
Hyde and Smith were signed to CBS Records in the early 1980s as the band Freur; formed Underworld MK1, c. 1988; released two albums before disbanding; formed current version of band with Emerson, 1991.
Addresses: Record company —V2 Records, 14 E. 4th St., 3rd Floor, New York NY 10012.
a teen became a fan of the legendary 1970s German band Kraftwerk, who pioneered synthesizer music. In 1981 Hyde and Smith formed a moody, drum machine-based act they called Freur, and were signed to CBS Records. Their haunting, darkly spiraling 1983 single, “Doot Doot,” charted well in the United Kingdom, was a huge hit in Italy, and even found its way into the alternative radio scene in North America.
Hyde and Smith were uninterested in becoming the next Depeche Mode. They remained in Wales, against industry advice, spent their advance on a car, and were soon dropped by CBS. From there, the duo formed Underworld MK1, which allowed them to pursue another musical direction that featured far less electronic-based instrumentation and leaned heavily toward funk. Aftera record deal with Sire and two albums—Underneath the Radar, released in 1988, and 1989’s Change the Weather—they had achieved minor success in Australia, and were invited to open on the farewell tour for the Eurythmies in the late 1980s. They played to huge stadium crowds, and the experience left a negative impression on the pair. “Within three dates, it was like, This is awful” Smith told Urb writer Tamara Palmer. “This is really awful. I stood in front of like 30,000 people. It was nice for five seconds, and after that it was awful.”
After parting ways with Sire, Hyde became a guitar playerfor hire and toured with Iggy Pop for a time. He also spent a great deal of time in New York City, where he used to frequent a bar called Jackie 60 with Deborah Harry of Blondie. Meanwhile, Smith relocated to the Essex town of Romford, England, where he met 20-year-old Darren Emerson, asuccessful money-markets trader who also worked as a part-time DJ. At the time, the acid-house music scene had firmly taken hold in England, and Smith and Emerson began setting down tracks in the studio that merged the darkly electronic vibe of Freur with the more danceable rhythms of the first formation of Underworld. Hyde returned from touring and joined them in the studio.
“Mother Earth” was the first single the threesome cut together, created solely for Emerson’s DJ set in a local club. “That was our outlet,” Hyde told Raygrun magazine. “We didn’t have radio or any system for playing live; Darren was our shop window.” Both “Mother Earth” and “Dirty” were released under the name Lemon Interrupt because of contractual issues with Sire over the Underworld MK1 name. At the time, Hyde and Smith also formed Tomato, an art collective/graphic design firm that over the decade evolved into art and music installation projects as well.
Their first record as Underworld, “Mmmm Skyscraper I Love You,” became a huge underground hit in England, and they were soon signed to a label called Junior Boy’s Own, a subsidiary of London Records. Another record, “Rez,” was also a massive club hit. Both tracks were included on their 1994 debut, dubnobasswithmyheadman, an album termed by Raygunas rife “with electronic melodies so warm you could curl up inside them, and rhythms so powerful and methodical that they left you with no option but letting it all out.” Underworld also made an impact with their live performances, shows that merged Emerson’s DJ talents with Hyde and Smith’s years of performing, and featured spectacular visual shows created by the Tomato creative collective as well. Request magazine declared that “the album crystallized a moment. The group’s mix of live instrumentation and back house rhythms appealed to both dance and rock audiences, while its stunning live gigs, including one 14-hour long improvisation performance, solidified its reputation.”
Underworld’s second album, Second Toughest in the Infants, was released in 1996. It incorporated the burgeoning jungle beat flavors then sweeping the British music scene, gained serious critical approval, and managed to sell a respectable 87,000 copies in the U.S. alone. Reviewing it for the Village Voice, Ben Williams declared it to be “an album that manages to be as accomplished as the first while expanding upon its sound.” Williams went on to note that as a band, “Underworld finds poignancy in the ambience of modern urban life, sculpting its repetitive blips and pulses into a seamless sonic flow that turns mechanical banality into emotional gold.” Williams continued, “This is a very London sound, one of tube stations and corner-shops and dingy cafes: rain-soaked, gray, yet at times possessed of a still, tragic beauty that contradicts the constant forward motion of its rhythms.”
Underworld were one of the first techno acts to integrate lyrics into their songs, though, as Raygun noted, “Hyde’s fragmented poetry won’t stand up to any logic test, although, in a way, abstraction seems the sensible stylistic match for a genre that’s not big on meaning or interpretation.” As Hyde explained in the same article, “I respond with the recording of the voice to the groove; the music comes first always.”
Though the original British release of Second Toughest in the Infants did not include the track “Born Slippy,” the song was integrated into the American version released later that year as a result of its inclusion on the soundtrack to the 1996 cult favorite Trainspotting. The film, by director Danny Boyle, was a success on both sides of the Atlantic for its wry, often painfully comical depiction of a group of Scottish drug addicts. “Born Slippy” was released in England in the spring of 1995, and after it became indelibly associated with the successful film and best-selling soundtrack, went on to sell over a million copies. It was also named single of the year by several British music magazines, and finally brought the band greater recognition in North America.
Fittingly, Underworld’s next effort received a massive marketing push from their label, now tied with New York City’s V2 Records. Beaucoup Fish was written in fits and starts, as midway though the recording process, the band was compelled to honor a commitment to do a European tour. They used the opportunity to try out the songs live, and found the strategy resulted in a far different sound in the end. “It made us cut out much of the frou-frou and get rid of a lot of the unnecessary padding,” Hyde told Billboards Dylan Siegler.
Released in the spring of 1999, Beaucoup Fish was a massive critical success stateside. The first single, “Cups,” was singled out for particular praise. “They re-engineerthe old-school Detroit-style synth that swerves through ’Cups’ until it sounds sleek enough for a BMW commercial—then chop it down into pseudo-Latin breaks and icy chunks of melody,” wrote Details Pat Blashill, while Entertainment Weekly’ David Browne called its dozen minutes “something we’ve long been waiting for— the Tree Bird’ of electronica!”
In his review, Browne praised the band for progressing creatively overthe past five years. “Beaucoup Fisfeels like a stimulating new beginning. Wipe away its dusting of frost and you’ll encounter mystery, beauty, and alluring rhapsodies, with the warm, pulsating beats serving as the music’s heart.” Browne also wrote of the backlash against electronica, heralded as the next big thing, and noted that “no one should have ever expected such amelodic music to top anything.” The critic termed Beaucoup Fish a record that proves “how many more places this music can wander, how it can grow and reinvent itself.”
Reinvention and artistic progression have been constant in Hyde and Smith’s career since their days together as Freur. “We embrace a lot of the sounds and rhythms that go on around us,”
Hyde told Rolling Stone writer Todd Roberts. “I think that’s a way forward [for music]. I’d like to think that people are opening their minds a lot more.”
(as Underworld MK1) Underneath the Radar, Sire, 1988.
(as Underworld MK1) Change the Weather, Sire, 1989.
dubnobasswithmyheadman, Junior Boy’s Own, 1994.
Second Toughest in the Infants, Junior Boy’s Own, 1996.
Pearl’s Girl (EP), Junior Boy’s Own, 1996.
Beaucoup Fish, Junior Boy’s OwnA/2, 1999.
Billboard, November 23, 1996, pp. 13, 20; March 20, 1999, pp.11, 80.
Details, February 1999, p. 69.
Entertainment Weekly, April 4, 1999.
Raygun, March 1999.
Request, April 1999.
Rolling Stone, October 3, 1996, p. 32; April 29, 1999, p. 68.
Spin, April 1999.
Urb, January/February 1999.
Village Voice, May 21, 1996, p. 57.
"Underworld." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/underworld
"Underworld." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/underworld
666. Underworld (See also Hell.)
- Aidoneus epithet of Hades. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 14]
- Amenti hidden world where the sun sets. [Egypt. Myth.: Leach, 42]
- Anunnaki lesser Sumerian underworld deities. [Sumerian Myth.: Benét, 41]
- Aornum entrance through which Orpheus descended to Hades. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 25]
- Aralu desolate land of no return. [Babyl. Myth.: Leach, 69]
- Avernus, Lake entrance to the maw. [Rom. Lit.: Aeneid ; Art: Hall, 147]
- Dis god of nether world; identified with Pluto. [Rom. Myth.: Leach, 315]
- Duat one of the Egyptian abodes of the dead. [Egypt. Myth.: Benét, 290]
- Erebus god of underground darkness. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 319]
- Ereshkigal queen of underworld; Persephone equivalent. [Sumerian Myth.: Benét, 319–320]
- Hades realm of departed spirits. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 499]
- Hel ruled over world of the dead. [Norse Myth.: Leach, 488]
- Nergal god ruling the world of dead. [Sumerian and Akkadian Myth.: Parrinder, 203]
- Niflheim region of perpetual cold and darkness; afterworld. [Norse Myth.: Wheeler, 259]
- oak leaves, garland of emblem of Hecate, goddess of the underworld. [Gk. Myth.: Jobes, 374]
- Orcus nether world of the dead. [Rom. Myth.: Wheeler, 270]
- Pluto god of underworld. [Gk. Myth.: Howe, 224 ]
- Sheol abode of the dead. [Hebrew Theology: Brewer Dictionary, 499]
- Styx river of Hades across which souls of dead must travel. [Gk. Myth.: Howe, 259]
- Tartarus infernal regions. [Gk. Myth.: Hall, 147]
Unfaithfulness (See FAITHLESSNESS .)
Ungratefulness (See INGRATITUDE .)
Unkindness (See CRUELTY, INHOSPITALITY .)
"Underworld." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld
"Underworld." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld
From all parts of the world come myths and legends about the underworld, a mysterious and shadowy place beyond ordinary human experience. The underworld is the realm of the dead, the destination of human souls in the afterlife. In some traditions, it is also the home of nonhuman, supernatural, or otherworldly beings such as fairies, demons, giants, and monsters. Although usually portrayed as a terrifying, dangerous, or unpredictable place, the underworld appears as a source of growth, life, and rebirth in some myths. Many descriptions of the underworld include elements of earthly life, such as powerful rulers and palaces.
The most common idea of the underworld is that it lies beneath the everyday world. The passage from this world to the other may begin by descending into a cave, well, or pit. However, the distance between the two worlds is more than physical, and the spiritual journey involved often includes great peril. The souls of the dead are the principal travelers, but sometimes living heroes, mystics, and shamans also make the journey.
The Land of the Dead. Many cultures believe that after death the soul travels to the underworld. In some traditions the passage to or through the underworld is part of a process that involves judgment of the individual's deeds when alive, and perhaps punishment for evil deeds. In others the underworld is simply the destination of all the dead, good and bad alike.
Some of the earliest descriptions of the underworld occur in myths from ancient Mesopotamia*. One tells how the fertility goddess Inanna, later known as Ishtar, descends into the kingdom of the dead, ruled by her sister Ereshkigal. Trying to overthrow Ereshkigal, Inanna is killed. The other gods convince Ereshkigal to release Inanna, but Inanna cannot leave the underworld without finding someone to take her place. She determines that her husband, Dumuzi or Tammuz, should be her substitute. Some scholars believe that this myth is related to the annual death and rebirth of vegetation.
The underworld Inanna visits is the same as that described in the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh, in which the character Enkidu has a vision of himself among the dead. The underworld described is a dim, dry, dreary place called the House of Darkness, a house that none who enter leave. The dead dwell in darkness, eating dust and clay. Although recognizable as individuals, they are pale and powerless shadows of their former selves.
supernatural related to forces beyond the normal world; magical or miraculous
shaman person thought to possess spiritual and healing powers
epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style
This Semitic* image of the underworld appears in early Jewish mythology. The Jewish underworld was Sheol, which means "pit."
*See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.
It held all the dead who had ever lived. Over time, as the idea of judgment in the afterlife took root in Jewish and then Christian belief, the early, neutral concept of the underworld changed. Sheol became a place of punishment and torment for the souls of sinners.
The ancient Greek vision of the underworld was, at first, much like that of the early Semitic cultures. All the dead went to the same place—a vague, shadowy underworld populated by the ghosts, or shades, of the dead. This realm is sometimes called Hades, after the god who ruled it. Gradually the underworld of Greek and then Roman mythology became more elaborate. The kingdom of Hades was said to lie either beyond the ocean or deep within the earth, separated from the world of the living by five rivers: Acheron (woe), Styx (hate), Lethe (forgetfulness), Cocytus (wailing), and Phlegethon (fire). Cerberus, a fierce, three-headed, doglike monster, guarded the entrance to the underworld, which consisted of various regions. The souls of the good dwelled in the Elysian Fields or Islands of the Blessed, while those who deserved punishment went to a deep pit called Tartarus.
To the Maya of Mesoamerica, the underworld was a dreadful place, but not one limited to sinners. Only people who died a violent death went to a heaven in the afterlife. Everyone else entered Xibalba, the underworld, whose name meant "place of fright." Any cave or body of still water was an entrance to Xibalba.
The dead were not confined to the underworld forever. In the Mayan sacred book Popol Vuh, the Hero Twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqúe outwitted the lords of Xibalba and left the land of death. The souls of kings and nobles could also escape from Xibalba if they were summoned by living relatives during the Serpent Vision ceremony.
The Aztecs of central Mexico believed that the underworld consisted of eight layers, each with its own dangers, such as drowning or sharp blades. Souls descended through the layers until they reached Mictlan, the bottommost part of the underworld.
Mesoamerica cultural region consisting of southern Mexico and northern regions of Central America
The underworld of Japanese mythology was Yomi, land of night or gloom. It was empty until the creator goddess Izanami died after giving birth to the god of fire. The maggots that appeared in her dead body grew into a host of demons who populated Yomi and tormented the souls of the wicked. Although Yomi was said to be a dark region of barren plains and lonely tunnels, artists often portrayed it as an underground palace crowded with the dead and demons. Also there was Emma-ô (the Japanese version of Yama, the Buddhist god of death), who judged the souls as they arrived inYomi.
The Journey to the Underworld. Many myths tell of heroes who entered the underworld while still alive. Those who survived the ordeals of the journey often returned to the living world transformed by the experience, perhaps bearing special wisdom or treasure.
Some heroes wished to rescue or reclaim a loved one who had died. In Greek mythology, Demeter went down to the underworld to try to bring back her daughter, Persephone, whom Hades had carried off. The Greek hero Orpheus* traveled to the underworld in search of his wife Eurydice.
Chinese Buddhist mythology tells of a hero named Radish, a disciple of Buddha. Before leaving on a journey Radish gave his mother, Lady Leek Stem, money for begging monks. The mother failed to give the money to the monks, but she lied to her son and said that she had done so. When Lady Leek Stem died, she went to hell.
Radish became so holy that he was made a saint named Mulian. With Mulian's enlightenment came the knowledge of his mother's torment. He went to hell to save her, although Yama, the king of hell, warned him that no one had the power to change a sinner's punishment. On his way Mulian had to travel past 50 demons, each with the head of an animal and swords for teeth. By waving a wand that Buddha had given him, he was able to make them disappear. Finally Mulian found his mother, nailed to a bed. But he could not release her; only Buddha could change a sinner's fate. Mulian asked Buddha for mercy for his mother, and after the proper prayers Buddha released Lady Leek Stem from hell.
The Ashanti people of Africa have a myth about Kwasi Benefo, who made a journey to the underworld. Kwasi Benefo married four women in turn, and each one died. Miserable and alone, he decided to go to Asamando, the land of the dead, to seek his lost loves. He went to the place of burial and then beyond it, passing through a dark, silent, trackless forest. He came to a river. On the far side sat Amokye, the old woman who greets dead women's souls. She felt sorry for Kwasi Benefo and allowed him to cross the river, though normally the living are forbidden to enter Asamando. Soon Kwasi Benefo found the invisible spirits of his wives. They told him to marry again, promising that his fifth wife would live and that they would be waiting for him in the underworld when his time came to die. Kwasi Benefo fell asleep and awoke in the forest. He brought from the underworld the precious gift of peace of mind, which allowed him to marry and live a normal life for the rest of his days.
The underworld is sometimes a mirror image of the world above. According to some African myths, the underworld is just like the ordinary world except that it is upside down. Its people sleep during the day and are active during the night. In the Congo, tradition says that the world of the living is a mountain and the underworld of the dead is another mountain pointing downward. Chinese myths tell of "China plowed under," an underworld inside the earth that mirrors every province and town in the world above.
enlightenment in Buddhism, a spiritual state marked by the absence of desire and suffering
The Otherworld. In some myths the underworld is a kind of alternative reality, a land not merely of the human dead but of different beings who live according to different rules. Celtic* mythology contains many accounts of an otherworldly realm. Its
*See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.
location was said to be far away on remote islands or lying beneath the sea or the ground. Certain caves or hills were believed to be entrances to this otherworld.
In Wales the otherworld was called Annwn, which means "not-world." It had a number of different sides. Primarily, the otherworld was the kingdom of the dead, and its grim ruler was known as Arawn to the Welsh and Donn to the Irish. However, the otherworld could also be a joyous and peaceful place or a source of wisdom, magic, and enchantment. The fairies, demons, spirits, and other supernatural beings who lived there were neither purely good nor purely evil. Depending on the circumstances, they could bring humans either harm or good fortune.
Celtic folklore is filled with legends of living people who entered the otherworld. Some went voluntarily, like King Arthur of Britain, who led an army into Annwn to capture a magical cauldron. Others were lured into the otherworld by fairies, sometimes in human or animal form. The theme of a human straying into the otherworld appears in many European fairy tales that draw on the old notion of the underworld as a supernatural realm. In such stories, a human who ate or drank while in the otherworld could never leave. Those who resisted food and managed to leave found that time had different meanings in the two worlds. After spending a single night in the otherworld, a person might return to the world above to find that years had passed.
The Source of Life. The underworld does not always represent the kingdom of the gloomy dead or the home of dangerous beings. In some myths it serves as the point of contact between the surface world of the living and the earth's powerful creative forces. Among the Ibo people of Western Africa, Ala, the goddess of the underworld, is also the earth goddess who protects the harvest, which emerges from the ground. Ala receives the dead—burial is thought to be placing the dead in her pocket or womb. However, Ala also ensures life by making people and animals fertile.
cauldron large kettle
The creation myths of many Native American cultures say that people and animals emerged from an underworld or series of underworlds. In these stories the underworld is a womb in which life is nurtured or prepared until the time is right for it to enter the world. One of many emergence myths is told by the Zuni, who say that the Ahuyuuta twins were sent deep into the earth by their father the sun god to guide unformed creatures up to the daylight. Once above the ground, the creatures changed into human beings.
According to the Jicarilla Apache of New Mexico, in the beginning all people, animals, and plants lived in the dark underworld. Those who wanted light played a game with those who liked darkness. The light-lovers won, and the sun and stars appeared. Then the sun, looking through a hole in the roof of the underworld, saw the surface of the earth, which was covered with water.
Eager to reach this hole in the underworld, the people built four great hills that grew upward. But after girls picked the flowers from the hills, the hills stopped rising. Then the people climbed to the roof on ladders made of buffalo horns. They sent the moon and sun through the hole to light the world and dispatched the winds to blow away the water. Next they sent out animals. Last of all, the people climbed up into the new world. Once they reached the surface, they spread out in four directions. Only the Jicarilla stayed in the original homeland near the hole that led up from the underworld.
See also Afterlife; Elysium; Hades; Hell; Inanna; Izanagi and Izanami; Orpheus; Persephone; Sheol; Styx; Xibalba.
"Underworld." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/underworld
"Underworld." Myths and Legends of the World. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/underworld
"Underworld." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld
"Underworld." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld
"underworld." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld
"underworld." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld
un·der·world / ˈəndərˌwərld/ • n. 1. the world of criminals or of organized crime. 2. the mythical abode of the dead, imagined as being under the earth.
"underworld." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld-1
"underworld." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld-1
"underworld." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld-0
"underworld." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/underworld-0