Brian Eno / Karl Hyde

Someday World

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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

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. As much as this album is a collaborative venture -- Hyde's vocal and lyrics are indeed signatures -- its music is impossible to separate from Eno's career. References to his first four solo records are ample, as is his work with Talking Heads, David Byrne, and even David Bowie. First single "Daddy's Car" dives deep into the funk -- Afro-funk, that is -- as its rhythms suggest the influence of the Bhundu Boys drum chorale, as keyboards, fat horns, and squiggly basslines create massive interlocking hooks. Hyde rides them with near pastoral vocal choruses (think "On Some Faraway Beach"). "A Man Wakes Up" uses Juju music organs and jittery synth basslines as Hyde speak/sings a monotone narrative about a man at odds with the speed of life around him even when trying to accept his condition and the world. It unmistakably recalls the same feel as "Once in a Lifetime," especially when the other vocalists and players enter. On "Witness," a bumping bassline and digitally delayed piano vamp introduce a lilting synth melody that contrasts with Hyde's single-note vocal about society's collapse: "Did you ever dream the end of the world/Watching everything you loved/Slip beneath the flood." The cascading melodies link through feverish bass and kinetic electronics that flood the piano chords and create lush dreamy pop, under an additional robotic voice intoning about the monotony of everyday life. The moody "Mother of a Dog" weds electro futurism to Middle Eastern trance music via snare, tambourine, tabla, and cowbell loops. But Hyde's vocal is at its most emotive as guitars and keyboards shimmer through a swirling, claustrophobic, blurry nocturnal mix. "When I Built This World" opens with a sanguine, nearly romantic vocal from Hyde, but is quickly modulated to mechanization. There are cold pulsing high-register organs, loads of echo, and knotty jazz-rock guitar cadences in tandem with bumping, frenetic basslines (one quotes "Burning Down the House"). Horns and frazzled rhythm guitars slip and quake before his vocals transmute into a completely automatized chorus. The preponderance of funky synthetic (and real) horns, fat grooves, and African and Eastern polyrhythms make Someday World an excellent exercise in beat-conscious, electronic art pop. Though its songs meditate on the nadir of human civilization, more often than not the music stands in stark contrast as it celebrates -- good-naturedly, with irony -- a transcendent human "now-ness," in the twin faces of technological and environmental annihilation.

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