Album Reviews

Darren Emerson / Tim Deluxe – Underwater Vol 1

UK release date: 22 July 2002

It’s been two years since his departure fromUnderworld and, far from taking it easy, DarrenEmerson has been hard at work, running the successstory that is the Subliminal/Underwater night inIbiza with Eric Morillo and cultivating his ownrecord label, Underwater, the fruits of which can beheard on this double CD. Not only that, it appearshe’s spawned this summer’s biggest house/pop crossoverrecord.

Tech-House has a reputation for being a bit of anon-starter. It’s house without the feel-good factor,techno without the futuristic driving rhythms.However, on this compilation, Darren Emersonand Tim Deluxe fuse the two genres seamlessly,effortlessly gliding from deep throbbing analoguetechno bass to funky Latin syncopation.

The first CDtakes the form of a party set that descends into deepdruggy techno. The second CD expands on this idea,going deeper without getting boring and even flirtingwith nu-school breaks. The first track, �Yerself’ byMutiny, is a perfect example of where the genreis going, a descending electro-bass line underlyingthe singalong vocal and tough (but not too tough)percussion.

The standout track by far is Tim Deluxe‘sown It Just Won’t Do, which reached no. 14 in the singles chart and has been thesong of this summer’s festivals. A total SummerTune, it fuses a just-the-right-side-of-annoyingthree-note trumpet riff with a huge housey bass lineand Sam Obernick‘s Latin-tinged vocals.

TimDeluxe knows how to write a commercial yetcredible tune (he was behind the Speed Garage anthemRIP Groove as one half of Double 99) and he’ssure to taste more success. Unbelievably he eschewedvast sums of money (a reported �500,000) offered tohim for this track and instead decided to stay withUnderwater. It’s clear where this boy’s loyalties lieand he obviously has a lot of faith in the label.

As an advertisement for Underwater, thiscompilation is perfect, showcasing as it does itssheer diversity. The marriage of squelchy acid linesand Samba rhythms, of soaring house vocals andmetallic percussion give it a kind of universalappeal.

It’s the sound of a glammed-up night at Pachain Ibiza and a dark, smoky underground club in WestLondon all at the same time. It’s the sound that madethe Subliminal/Underwater sessions in Ibiza sopopular. There’s no hint of a sell out and that willensure the success of Underwater for a long time tocome.

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Darren Emerson / Tim Deluxe – Underwater Vol 1