While his musical partner Rick Smith has been busy with the soundtrack to Danny Boyle's new thriller Trance, the Underworld vocalist Karl Hyde steps away from the dance floor on his debut solo album.
Loosely inspired by the decaying landscapes on London's eastern fringes, Edgeland is an appealing but uneven patchwork of electro-acoustic sound paintings and impressionistic poetry. Hyde has previously performed with Brian Eno and the guitarist Leo Abrahams in the live project Pure Scenius.
Co-produced by Abrahams, Edgeland owes more to this organic collaboration than to Underworld's heavily electronic soundworld. There is certainly an Eno-esque feel to the ambient mood pieces Cut Clouds and Sleepless, with their fluid drift and shimmering, glitchy textures. Elsewhere, Hyde sounds like an electro-folk cousin of Morrissey on such charming, wistfully romantic vignettes as Your Perfume Was the Best Thing.
Sadly, ideas run thin during the album's latter half, hitting a low point with Shadow Boy, an overlong, ponderous plodder that falls short of its epic ambitions. But Edgeland is a pleasant journey overall, despite a few dull digressions.
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