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FREUR (Buy CDs by this artist)
Doot - Doot (Epic) 1983
Get Us Out of Here (UK CBS) 1985
UNDERWORLD
Underneath the Radar (Sire) 1988
Change the Weather (Sire) 1989

An insular and intentionally remote British art-pop band, Freur was originally identified only by an unpronounceable squiggle rather than a proper name. When the gimmicky hubbub subsided, all that was left for posterity was Doot - Doot's title track, four magnificent minutes of lilting, haunting synthesizer ambience with quirky vocals and choral backing.

Freur faded from sight after a second album met with even less response, but four-fifths of the quintet returned in 1988 as the Underworld, an enigmatic but more commercially geared organization. Rupert Hine's production of Underneath the Radar gives it a sturdy dance backbone and the familiar sound of late-'80s British techno- beat; Heaven 17 leaning towards the Thompson Twins. A shade above average with a fair share of ideas and invention, but still nothing to compare with the participants' one extraordinary item.

If singer Karl Hyde were Michael Hutchence, "Change the Weather" would be an INXS single, but the song is not typical of the unchallengingly accessible album named for it. Loudly textured modern rock played on guitars and keyboards, Change the Weather has better vocals, more focus and personality (some of it evidently borrowed from more successful groups) than the Underworld's debut. Presentably chart-worthy without being vile.

[Ira Robbins]