The Midday Meal

A repository for the various things i consume in the course of daily existence

Monday, November 08, 2004

Song 10 Underworld - Born Slippy

I realise this one is hardly a surprise, to post a list of 32 of my favourite songs and not include at least one Underworld track would have been dishonest. I had intended to make you wait, for this to come later in the list, so that it could follow some kind of chronological order. So this would appear in the second 15 of the list which would cover the last 7-8 years of my listening. However this plan has fallen by the wayside for a number of reasons. The primary one being that a lot of songs I intend to list will require some re-acquaintance time in order to allow the feelings and responses they invoke to be communicated to others, that reflection isn’t necessary with this one.

I don't think there's anyone out there who wouldn't recognise the synth stabs at the start of Born Slippy, and as their record company’s marketing people claimed, there isn't a person who has lived and loved dance music over the past decade or so who doesn't have a particular Underworld inspired memory. For most of them it is this tune. I have a great many. From playing Born Slippy on repeat for about 2 hours to keep us awake driving north from Melbourne following the heartbreaking world cup qualifier against Iran in 97 to Dave Seaman's evil grin as the cheesy piano of Rick Smith's 2003 mix started up at lot33 earlier this year. By far the most memorable is being in a massive sweaty room at the Big Day Out and halfway through the song, just as Karl stopped his insane chant and the synths started up again, the roof started raining massive balloons and 10,000 naked sweaty punters went completely mental.

I think the true beauty of techno music is its essential fluidity and ownerlessness. The nature of the medium is such that the artists of the genre create work to be co-opted by their colleagues, to be incorporated into sets of music bigger and greater than the original, to adapt and vary and remix it. Once created the realisation of the muse's inspiration is put into the public domain and the validity of its subsequent interpretations left up to the listener.

As a result the landscape of techno music is littered with white labels and remixes, of collaborations between artists, often fleeting, increasing the temporal nature of the medium. Indeed of the major artists who have translated success commercially from techno music to the sustained mainstream success (the Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy, Faithless) have done so on the back of applying the electronic sounds and processes to the linear rock/pop narrative, but the history is scattered with one hit dance wonders who return to relative obscurity after their big smash tune.

Underworld's work is anything but linear, the rambling mutterings and shouting of Karl Hyde's lyrics are mostly snippets of thoughts and actions, randomly pieced together and completely removed from context, indeed Born Slippy is the only song they've ever tried to explain. If only to deny the beer boy interpretation of the "lager, lager" chant.

The trainspotters amongst us will tell you that the Born Slippy we are all familiar with is actually the combination of two Underworld tracks, Born Slippy and NUXX, which have grown together and formed a symbiotic relationship similar to that of Rez and Cowgirl. So that the tracks now sound out of place when not played together. Indeed when Underworld play live, Born Slippy rises out of the driving percussive techno of NUXX for a few minutes of beauty before diving back into the chaos.

However you interpret it, whatever the hell Karl saw in the tube station on that night out waiting for the train back to Romford isn't important. What is important is the glow of recognition and joy in the faces of everyone around you when the first strains of the songs come over the speakers, and that rush of energy about 1 minute and 50 seconds in when the drums start and all techno hell breaks lose…


  • At 10:52 AM, Blogger mister z said…

    heh, we really did drive to melbourne and back in about 24 hours didn't we? good times. good times! except for the guy who tried to gas himself in his car in the highway rest stop probably as a result of the Aus v Iran result. Oh yeah, and then there was the Aus v Iran result. Errr... shit... good times nonetheless!


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