Underworld & Iggy Pop – ‘Teatime Dub Encounters’ review

"Batshit brilliance from three mad scientists with so much still to prove"

Having both been so integral to the soundtrack and spirit of the original Trainspotting movie, ‘Teatime Dub Encounters’ was borne of an attempted collaboration between Underworld and Iggy Pop to create something special for the sequel T2. For their first meeting, a studio was set up in a hotel room at The Savoy in London and a natural chemistry drove everything from there. It may not have made it for T2, but a beautiful beast of its own came into being.

If I had wings, I wouldn’t do anything beautiful and transcendent,” Iggy snarls playfully on opener ‘Bells & Circles. “No, I’d get my finger into everything I wanted – I’d do all the beautiful things, those things you can’t do“. The dream is real. In this seven-and-a-half-minute jazzy electro odyssey detailing the ‘golden age’ of cocaine and nicotine-fuelled air travel (and how its demise parallels that of Western Civilisation) you’re riding on a stream of consciousness into a beautiful horizon. They’re doing whatever they want, and loving every minute of it.

The equally sprawling ‘Trapped’, featuring a post-punk krautrock backing not too dissimilar to his favourite band Sleaford Mods, channels Iggy’s trademark bluesy existentialism as he squawks about the death of the self as one ages into a mortgage-laden shell of a man. Naturally, Underworld add depth with another dimension of synthy cinematic, arena-ready trance. The result is riveting from start to finish. Things turn a little more tender and introspective on ‘I’ll See Big’ as Iggy bares his soul on a spoken-word reflection on a long life told through various friendships, before ‘Get Your Shirt’ warns against the pitfalls of being ripped off in love and business to a Depeche Mode industrial disco stomp. The weirder they get, the more wonderful it is.

While Iggy’s latest effort, ‘Post Pop Depression‘ with Josh Homme and co., marked a late career highlight and Underworld’s ‘Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future‘ also scored highly across the board, ‘Teatime Dub Encounters’ doesn’t pale in their shadow or smack of a vanity or side project. This is a whole new monster born of the friction from a restless need to create, the pure abandon to do whatever the fuck feels good, and the batshit brilliance from three mad scientists with so much still to prove. Others of their standing may choose the wallowing legacy of safety. These guys do not. These guys choose life.