On paper at least, ‘Someday World’ sounds an exciting prospect, a coming together of two of electronic music’s biggest and well-known names. On the one hand we have Brian Eno, a man whose talents have aided countless musicians such as U2 and Coldplay over the past three decades, cementing him firmly into musical history as a sought after producer and his hefty portfolio of solo ambient work. In contrast there is Karl Hyde, whose more recent output with Underworld has been patchy to say the least.
The project, one that sees Eno create the musical frameworks in which Hyde is then responsible for filling, is most politely described as experimental at best and at its worst, messy. First single ‘Satellites’ is an enjoyable blast of big, brass-infused surges of beats and guitars. Hyde’s vocals, seemingly less intrusive on Underworld records, protrude sharply on ‘Someday World’. His anodyne voice makes the dated ‘A Man Wakes Up’ feel far longer than its four minutes, a song that isn’t helped by an abundance of superfluous guitar noodling.
The strongest tracks on the record are those where Eno’s influence is most clearly felt. The first 40 seconds of ‘Witness’ are a joy in until our man from Underworld drags it screaming back into hum drum post-90s acid territory. Too often on the record, Eno’s trademark patterns and soundscapes are buried too far beneath tepid beats and synths which is a huge shame considering the massive potential this collaboration has. Occasionally there are glimpses of what could have been. ‘Strip it Down’ fizzes with a genuine sense of urgency, its flittering piano meanders in between satisfying beats and lovely layers of melody. Equally ‘Who Rings the Bell’ shows a bit of warmth to the frequently soulless structures created by the pairing, its hard pounding at the start gradually giving way to gentler vocal territory.
Ultimately Someday World is undeniably disappointing. For something that promised so much and to deliver so woefully little is an injustice to each respective side of the partnership. If the best songs are the ones where Eno’s input is the more enjoyable of the two, it makes this joint effort somewhat redundant.