Album Reviews

Darren Emerson / Mutiny – Underwater Episode 2

(Underwater) UK release date: 26 May 2003

Darren Emerson / Mutiny - Underwater 2 Burning out on Trance? Immerse yourself in the grooves of Underwater Episode 2. CD 1 is ex-Underworld member Darren Emerson‘s baby – composed of tracks released or due to be released on Underwater records. CD 2 is commanded by London DJ duo Mutiny – taking it back in time but forward to the dance floor.

Mutiny’s mix can be mistaken as anachronistic – its beats identify it with the end of the ’80s. But what made people dance then still makes them dance now. It’s survival of the fittest on the floor – the basics of dance music date quite well (what about Phuture‘s Acid Trax?)

But it won’t work on the home stereo of a non-clubber. Mutiny’s own tracks on the mix are examples of this. Jack U has a bass-line and drums that are Acid minus filter sweeps, with percussive sound effects, and the impressive Drums takes the sound effects to the extreme and puts a slow bass-head line underneath.

The Mutineers mix together what on the face of it seem like disparate styles. They start out lighter with the piano loops of Planets‘ Piano Things, go through the funky disco strings of Kurtis Mantronix‘ 77 Strings, but are soon moving deeper through the heavy hypnosis of Reza‘s Sleazebag and Jack U.

The tranced-out peak of the Mutiny set is DJ Sneak‘s Same Old Song with interacting incomprehensible vocal-loops being filtered up and down. Aficionado‘s Bootyshake is another great moment, with its electro snare sets. All the way through these tracks the beats are “funky and chunky”, as Darren Emerson has put it.

The common elements on CD 2 are the lower tempo, high-in-the-mix loops but few real hooks, vocal and noise samples, but no vocal lines. It’s back to basics – no trance bass lines or pads here, nor driving techno drum beats. In fact there’s little aural space at all, the whole spectrum feels stuffed up with the large drum sounds and loops.

CD 2 may be the unique element of this album, but Emerson’s Underwater-only CD 1 will generate the sales and airplay. It begins with Paul Jackson‘s excellent The Push, whose organ drone and entrancing bass-line sit on a living rhythm section. The next highlight comes with Gus Gus‘ Call Of The Wild where a contrasting mellow vocal lies over mysterious chord loops and funky squiggling keyboard riffs.

Whaddup by Tony Senghore is shortly along – it’s the most electro moment on the album, driving a cutting effect-laden and effective spoken vocal that includes the very PC line “the DJs a slut… grabbing your nuts”. Then Sharam Jey‘s Day After, a string loop and funky bass track, makes the link between Emerson’s and Mutiny’s boxes more apparent. And this link continues into Wally Lopez‘ Tribute to Acid House.

Pop-wise the album’s top track comes close to last – Tim Deluxe‘s full-o-attitude Less Talk More Action, with its catchy roll. This won’t be the last time you hear this sing-a-long distorted vocal number.

A varied and well-mixed release, Underwater Episode 2 focuses on what makes people dance. And Emerson and Mutiny must have got it right – sets like this are hot at The End and will be weekly at Pacha Ibiza this summer.

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More on Darren Emerson
Darren Emerson: “The DJ has become a bit like a pop star. Some people are enjoying the pop star bit more than others” – Interview
Darren Emerson / Magik Johnson – Underwater Episode V
Darren Emerson / Paul Jackson – Underwater Episode III
Darren Emerson / Mutiny – Underwater Episode 2
Darren Emerson / Tim Deluxe – Underwater Episode 1