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Underworld’s “Crocodile (Alligator)”

I’ve never seen this video before, though I have listened to 2007’s Oblivion With Bells like a thousand times. Unfortunately this video is for the radio edit of the track and about 3 minutes shorter than the album cut, but that doesn’t really matter since it’s still an absolutely fantastic piece of dreamy dance music.

The concept is simple; shoot them performing twice: once where they don’t move too much and they’re lit hard to one side, and again with a strobe where they’re moving. Sync, overlay, and intercut. I particularly like Darren Price’s sombrero. Rick Smith looks like he’s having a particularly good time. And, well, Karl Hyde, Karl Hyde is Karl Hyde, the singular voice of electronic music for me.

I was chatting with Charles on the IMs this morning about the M83 show he went to last night (he offered his extra ticket to me but I couldn’t go. Lame). This morning he said that it was a little weird for him because in his brain M83 has always been this perfect, inhuman thing, sounds that could not possibly come from a real person. He called it a “faceless future made from city lights, smoke, and slow motion.” While I don’t have the same relationship with M83 he does, I do feel the exact same way about Underworld. In 2007 they toured for Oblivion With Bells and again last year for Barking, but I never went to see them. Why not? I guess I was a little afraid that, like Charles with M83, that I would “hear the seams,” that they would be knocked from this exalted place in my brain to just a bunch of dudes who make really awesome music that I enjoy immensely.

It is funny though, that this really only applies to electro-oriented bands. The exact opposite is true of more traditional type bands. For example, the first time I saw The Magnetic Fields perform, I feel like I gained a much better perspective on their music, like somehow it made a lot more sense than it had hours previously. That is partly why I am so excited to see Jeff Magnum in January. You see it performed live, you hear the intonations, you hear the singer’s voice, you see their faces as they play, and it adds to an experience I already enjoy.

I don’t know why seeing Underworld wouldn’t be like that also, but it just feels different. Listening to Stephin Merritt play “Papa Was a Rodeo” live is different than hearing Underworld perform “Push Upstairs” live. One is a song I can digest, chords and layers and movement, whereas the other—in my brain, at least—is a sonic landscape perfectly tended and built.

I don’t know. Maybe I should just go see Underworld the next time they roll around and see how I feel.

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