Karl Hyde - Edgeland

Hymns without a church, dance songs without beats

Last year’s Olympic opening
ceremony affirmed what
a select band of people had
known for a long time: there
was so much more to
Underworld than Born Slippy,
their 1996 No 2 hit; though,
unlike most groups, their
freak hit wasn’t atypical of
their work. It introduced Karl
Hyde as a cataloguer of the
underbelly, with poetic
imagery recounting the
Hogarthian scenes he surveyed.

Working with Leo
Abrahams, who’s been
discreetly adding textures to
both Brian Eno and David
Holmes’ work for years,
Hyde’s first solo album,
Edgeland, is a full realisation
of his lyrical imagery. In
exploring the fringes of the
city, he conveys that feeling
of restless, all-night motion
while others are safely
tucked-up: territory that Hyde
has visited many times, from
characters with flaming
8-balls tattooed on their arms to miscreants out by
the ring road.

Though at first you long for
Rick Smith’s Underworld beats
to kick in, the feeling soon
abates. From the touching
refrain of “Holding the light of
the world at bay” in Your
Perfume Was The Best Thing,
to Cut Clouds’ evocation of
John Martyn’s Small Hours or
the rousing synthesiser riff in
The Boy With The Jigsaw
Puzzle Fingers, this is sweetly
strange and often emotional
music – an album of
disquieting tone poems and
outlandish lullabies. It’s the
rainbow glimpsed in a puddle
of oil; it’s rather beautiful.

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

UMC | 3729840

Reviewed by Tom Byford
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