The British electronic group Underworld contributed to the mid-’90s electronic music boom with their thudding 1996 UK hit “Born Slippy (NUXX).” A quarter-century later, they continue to blend house, techno, and atmospheric sounds.
• Underworld has always centered around the Welsh duo of vocalist Karl Hyde and keyboardist Rick Smith. The pair first collaborated in the band Screen Gemz, then formed the New Wave group Freur in the early ’80s.
• In the late ’80s, Hyde and Smith played together in the dance-pop band Underworld, which released a pair of albums and enjoyed some success in the US.
• The original incarnation of Underworld broke up during a 1990 US tour. A couple years later, Hyde and Smith reconvened, added the considerably younger DJ Darren Emerson, and began to focus on dance music.
• The new version of Underworld made their full-length debut with 1994’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman. The album went Top 20 in the UK and was certified gold in 1997.
• Director Danny Boyle featured their 1995 B-side “Born Slippy (Nuxx)”—a song written about alcoholism—at the close of his 1996 film Trainspotting and on its gold-selling soundtrack.
• Released as a proper single following the film’s success, “Born Slippy (NUXX)” reached No. 2 on the UK singles chart. It’s considered one of the decade’s most important electronic songs.
• Smith has continued working with Boyle. Smith scored Boyle’s 2013 film Trance, and the pair collaborated while Smith was music director for the 2012 London Olympics.
• Underworld’s 1999 album Beaucoup Fish peaked at No. 3 in the UK and made the upper half of the Billboard 200 in the US—career peaks in both countries.
• In 2000, Emerson left Underworld to pursue solo interests.
• Underworld launched their “Drift” series in late 2018. The duo released new songs every week throughout the following year and compiled the tracks for a 2020 project.
• By 2020, Underworld had notched 10 Top 40 singles in the UK and seven Top 40 albums.