Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future Book + CD (2016)Underworld
First released in 2016.
An opening punch of a two-note detuned bass riff crunching over relentless percussion that sounds like a robot rhythmically kicking a metal door; a swoop of melancholic strings stretching out across off-world synthetic sound; a demented lupine howl that curls itself into an unshakeable earworm; celestial techno and South American acoustics; voices that warp into harmonic riffs; found lyrics that form fine-tuned monologues. Head music to dance to.
While Barbara Barbara might only be the sixth Underworld album, it arrived over three and a half decades after Rick and Karl met in a student house in Cardiff. Arriving six years after Barking, it sees the band adopt a radical working process in order to channel new inspirations. Abandoning engrained writing practises, Rick and Karl would build track from scratch each time they recorded. Words might be taken from books on shelves or inspired by views out of hotel room windows; music might be built from a bag full of children’s instruments or a guitar that’s been stuck at the back of a cupboard for 15 years. The result is a total creative reinvention.
In terms of the band’s back catalogue, Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future is short. Seven tracks, forty four minutes, the very picture of brevity. In reality, it’s exactly as long as it needs to be - the perfect distillation of everything that makes Rick and Karl… well, Underworld.
A shining future indeed.