It was just 10 days before the official release of the Dive’s Underneath when I received the opportunity to review it. I was waiting for this album with a lot of anticipation and as soon as I received it, I started soaking up its rich and inspirational content. My thoughts were if it would be Dive that we’ve all been so familiar with? The answer is undoubtedly affirmative. But Dive has moved forward. It went beyond the frontiers of my imagination and deeply puzzled me. Is this the music of the next millennium? The album is based on Dive’s tradition, being somewhat minimalistic, raw, relentless, but it is also very logical and rational. Dive’s never been driven only by the intuition. It is not a product of the whim or impulse. On the contrary, it shows the artist’s deepest motivation and Dirk Ivens obviously knows the course that he is taking. His work has offered so much during the years and Dive is now back to offer us some more. On this occasion he has teamed up with Ivan Iusco, with whom he had worked on Concrete Jungle and Rafael M. Espinosa, his collaborator on Behind The Sun. The trio’s efforts shaped this very unique and distinctive album. It is so rare these days to hear something so original as Underneath.
Noisy, electrified, atmospheric “Underneath” track opens the album. Dirk’s vocal is raw, mysterious, phantom-like, just the way we like it. “Far Away” offers more rhythm and the whole atmosphere changes quickly from almost supernatural to more catchy and melodic. The soundscapes are captivating and I believe the song could rank high on charts. Before we can relax Dive goes back to the noisy, minimalistic and surreal expression with “Sacred Skin”. This track is based on the repetition, but it perpetually evolves and builds up around the core idea. There are many sound layers to be discovered, so be patient with this one. It feels almost like brush strokes on a canvas! And then, there is “Let Me In” that gives us yet another catchy and memorable moment. The song relies more on the “formal” song structure than on psychedelia. By now, I am convinced that the album would please many listeners. Experimental meats pop in the most peculiar way. Instrumental “From Behind” may seem almost like a “play”. However, it is a rather cleverly thought out experimental sound experience. After this “intermezzo” half way through the album, the beat of “Something” kicks in. This track, along with “Far Away”, symbolizes the more explicit and straightforward moment. However, it delivers the message of no compromise in a very Dive manner. “Howling Ground” compromises even less. The song is about integrating and disintegrating sound elements, yet construction is here. The song feels like the construction site of the sound and the whole idea of the process is taking shape in my mind. The colossal sound blocks are being lifted up; from small particles there rises the giant. “A Man Came Inside” is an absolutely minimalistic piece. There is the sound and there is the voice, and they intertwine in the blank space, the empty room, the void. The delivered sounds leave an echo in the abyss of my mind. While the song is free of any restrictions, it still manages to leave me with the feelings of claustrophobia. The sounds echo against the tight walls of my perception, and the only way to escape this feeling of nihilism is to “walk outside”! “Melt” finds the perfect balance between the high voltage electricity vibrating, noisy articulation and more coherent and cogent song structure. “I Want You” manipulates the very noise. Electrified, power plant-like, buzzy sound keeps our mind stimulated and aroused. The song relies on the repetition and the psychedelic, almost trance-like state is achieved. No matter how minimalistic the track may sound, I find it anything but. It takes no more than good headphones or speakers to discover layers of sounds which intertwine and build up slowly towards the very end of the track, and Dirk’s almost narrative voice takes more “human” form. Having said that, I‘ve sadly come to the very end of this exceptional, outstanding album. Did I discover what lies “underneath”? The sound of the next millennium for sure!