Pioneers of ambient electronica and dub-techno respectively, Brian Eno and Karl Hyde may initially appear unlikely bedfellows. But following the former’s 2013 remix of the latter’s “Slummin’ It For The Weekend” and their hook-up on Underworld compilation Athens (“Beebop Hurry”), the full-length album Someday World is actually their third collaborative effort.
Throw in the fact that Hyde’s debut solo album, Edgeland, was produced by regular Eno cohort Leo Abrahams, and you would have hoped for these nine tracks to possess a certain sense of synergy. Unfortunately, Someday World turns out to be a rather jarring, if occasionally intriguing, soundclash which suggests both Eno & Hyde were working to entirely different briefs.
Smothered in the kind of tinny synth-brass you’d expect to find on a children’s miniature keyboard, opener “The Satellites” starts out as tacky muzak before transforming into a doom-laden Depeche Mode-esque slice of synth-rock about the mundanity of life. There’s a similar lift music vibe halfway through “Strip It Down,” which despite its title, is otherwise surrounded by a maximalist blend of jittery percussion, throbbing bass and kaleidoscopic synths. Elsewhere, “When I Built This World” lurches from Level 42-esque funk to espionage soundtrack while also bizarrely threatening to burst into Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall In Love.”
The schizophrenic sound isn’t Someday World’s only major problem. Indeed, Hyde is undoubtedly a gifted producer/songwriter, but an engaging vocalist he most definitely isn’t, and his dreary and monotonous drone-like tones would turn even the most uplifting of party anthems into funereal-like dirges.
“Daddy’s Car,” a brilliantly percussive number which harks back to the Afrobeat vibes of Eno’s work with Talking Heads, and “Who Rings The Bell,” a feel-good acoustic funk affair featuring Coldplay drummer Will Champion, are much more encouraging. “Man Wakes Up,” a thrilling and cohesive fusion of disco, gospel and chopped-up acid house which suggests the duo should have veered off into Underworld territory more often, also hints at what could have been.
Someday World, therefore, isn’t without the odd inspired moment. But overall, it’s an experiment which has produced self-indulgent, unfocused and surprisingly cheap results.