Album Reviews

Darren Emerson / Tim Deluxe – Underwater Episode 1

(Underwater) UK release date: 22 July 2002

Darren Emerson : Tim Deluxe - Underwater Vol 1 It’s been two years since his departure from Underworld and, far from taking it easy, Darren Emerson has been hard at work, running the success story that is the Subliminal/Underwater night in Ibiza with Erick Morillo and cultivating his own record label, Underwater, the fruits of which can be heard on this double CD. Not only that, it appears he’s spawned this summer’s biggest house/pop crossover record.

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

The first CD takes the form of a party set that descends into deep druggy techno. The second CD expands on this idea, going deeper without getting boring and even flirting with nu-school breaks. The first track, Yerself by Mutiny, is a perfect example of where the genre is going, a descending electro-bass line underlying the singalong vocal and tough (but not too tough) percussion.

The standout track by far is Tim Deluxe’s own It Just Won’t Do, which reached Number 14 in the singles chart and has been the song of this summer’s festivals. A total Summer Tune, it fuses a just-the-right-side-of-annoying three-note trumpet riff with a huge housey bass line and Sam Obernik‘s Latin-tinged vocals.

Tim Deluxe knows how to write a commercial yet credible tune (he was behind the Speed Garage anthem RIP Groove as one half of Double 99) and he’s sure to taste more success. Unbelievably he eschewed vast sums of money (a reported £500,000) offered to him for this track and instead decided to stay with Underwater. It’s clear where this boy’s loyalties lie and he obviously has a lot of faith in the label.

As an advertisement for Underwater, this compilation is perfect, showcasing as it does its sheer diversity. The marriage of squelchy acid lines and Samba rhythms, of soaring house vocals and metallic percussion give it a kind of universal appeal.

It’s the sound of a glammed-up night at Pacha in Ibiza and a dark, smoky underground club in West London all at the same time. It’s the sound that made the Subliminal/Underwater sessions in Ibiza so popular. There’s no hint of a sell out and that will ensure the success of Underwater for a long time to come.

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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