Album Review: Orbital


Orbital -‘Wonky’ (ACP Recordings)

Welcome back, Phil and Paul. A few years back, I argued that perhaps the really important brothers in music over the last 20 years had, in fact, not been the brothers Gallagher but the brothers Hartnoll. And I stand by that.

This is their first album in eight years, although they came off ‘indefinite hiatus’ in 2009. They had a fearsome reputation as a live act, made some brilliant albums that were thought-provoking and danceable, and enjoyed a number of hit singles.

Wonky is a great album, period. It pretty much picks up where they left off to the ears of this listener, no desperate attempts to appear dahn wiv der kids, or sounding like they’re flogging any dead horses going to pay the mortgage. It sounds like Classic Orbital and current at the same time. The album features contributions from Zola Jesus (on the single ‘New France’) and Lady Leshur on the title track.

If I said this was business as usual for Orbital, it would probably come across as if I was being dismissive. But the awesome work that characterized their great albums back in the 1990s is here in spades. It may seem that the album takes a while to get going the first time you hear it – but by the second or third time you are hooked. So great to be able to report that they are retreading past glories or offering this up as an exercise in nostalgia. Will we really be able to say the same when the yawningly inevitable Oasis reunion happens?


Wonky is released on ACP Recordings on April 2.

The return of Orbital


Orbital are due to return with their first album in eight years, Wonky, on April 1.

Phil and Paul Hartnoll have joined up with Zola Jesus who adds her vocals to the first single taken from the album, entitled ‘New France.’ As you would expect, from a legendary dance act, yes it comes with a remixes – but what you might not expect (if you are cynical about remixes, rather than if you know how bloody great Orbital are and have always been, obviously!) is that those remixes would be so blinking awesome. All worth checking out, IMHO.

The video for the song is rather cool, too…

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. One Big Moment
2. Straight Sun
3. Never
4. New France (feat. Zola Jesus)
5. Distractions
6. Stringy Acid
7. Beelzedub
8. Wonky (feat. Lady Leshurr)
9. Where Is It Going?

The band are touring the UK in April:

5 Manchester Academy
6 Leeds O2 Academy
7 Glasgow O2 Academy
8 Liverpool O2 Academy
9 Cambridge Corn Exchange
10 London Royal Albert Hall

Album Review – Orbital


Orbital -‘Orbital 20′ (Rhino)

This is one of the most glorious things to grace my ears this year. The ’20’ in the title could refer the number of years since they formed, the number of tracks on the compilation across two wonderful CDs or even the accumulated marks for each disc out of ten.

Because -make no mistake – this compilation of the work of the Brothers Hartnoll, Phil and Paul, is just fantastic. Even if you weren’t a dance music fan, not to be moved and impressed by these tracks would be to give up on life. It opens with ‘Chime’ their glorious manifesto, and continues with ‘Belfast’ the younger, further-reaching cousin of the Beloved’s ‘The Sun Rising.’ Then it’s onto ‘Satan’ the delightfully bonkers, thrilling floor-filler that samples the Butthole Surfers. And that’s just the first three tracks.

The Hartnoll Brothers proved themselves masters of much of what has come under the heading of dance and elctronica over the past two deacdes. Echoes of house, trance, ambient, techno and chill. Their contemporaries have, over time, included The Orb, Aphex Twin, Underworld, The Chemical Brothers, and Leftfield. Like these acts, they were born out of rave culture, but progressed into the charts and tore up the mainstream, proving themselves as chart stars with Top Of The Pops appearances, gracing the Peel Festive Fifty and the pages of indie bible NME. Added to that list should almost certainly be Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, UNKLE, Boards of Canada, the Prodigy and yes, Fatboy Slim and Moby. Hopefully all of them will be remembered when the inevitable nineties revival kicks into gear, that the music of the time was not just about grunge and Britpop. I made that mistake then, I’m sure as hell not doing it again.

I really connected with Orbital when ‘The Box’ came out, and it lead to me going back and investigating their earlier stuff. Now the four minute version here is great – but one of the few disappointments of this album is that it doesn’t include the full 28 minute version. It does contain two different versions of ‘Lush,’ a storming ten minute track. It doesn’t include their re-make of ‘The Saint’ theme, either, but I think I can live with that and so can you. Their live shows became legendary – so much so that when the band announced they were retiring in 2004, it seemed that they were constantly doing one more show. Now they have returned and this is not an excercise in nostalgia; rather, it’s an opportunity for everyone to remind themselves just how great they are.

Sod the bloody Gallagher brothers, this album proves that the most important act of brothers of British music over the last two decades is not Noel and Liam, but Phil and Paul.


Orbital -‘Style.’ mp3

Orbital -‘The Box.’ mp3

Orbital -‘Chime’ (Top Of the Pops 1990)

Festive Fifty Wondrousness

Yup, folks, a wonderful 17 Seconds reader, David, has sent me all the tracks I was looking for yesterday. Great stuff, thank you, kind sir.

Orbital – ‘Style.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.15)

Sonic Subjunkies – ‘Do You Even Know Who You Are?’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.16)

Kraken – ‘Side Effects.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.26)

Plone – ‘Be Rude To your School.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.38)

Miss Mend – ‘Living City Plan.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.48)

Wheat – ‘Don’t Hold You.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no. 50)

Cowcube -‘Popping Song.’ mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.30)

Lab 4 -‘Candyman.’ mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.35)

Mighty Math -‘Soul Boy.’ mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.39)

Meanwhile, I remember the film of The Beach being received somewhat disapppointingly in 2000, but the soundtrack featured two festive fifty entries that year, New Order’s ‘Brutal’ (and not as you might have expected the soundtrack to contain, ‘The Beach’) and Orbital and Angelo Badalamenti’s ‘Beached.’

New Order -‘Brutal.’ mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.26)

Orbital and Angelo Badalamenti -‘Beached.’ mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.45)

Meanwhile (heh heh…) yet again, having difficulty tracking these tracks down, so if anyone can help that would be appreciated please:

From 1976:
Wild Man Fischer -‘Go To Rhino records.’ [Thanks Craig]
Matching Mole -‘O Caroline.’ [Now have it, thanks!]
Allman Brothers band -‘Jessica.’ [Now have it, thanks, Laurent]
Legendary Stardust Cowboy -‘Paralysed.’ [Thanks Craig!]
Racing Cars -‘They shoot Horses Don’t They?’ [Thanks Steve!]

and from 1985:
Three Johns -‘Death Of the European’ [Now have it, thanks]
Woodentops -‘Move Me’ [Now have it, thanks]
1,000 Violins -‘Like 1,000 Violins’ [Now have it, thanks Mike!]

Three from the 1994 Festive Fifty

My Mission to complete the Festive Fifty continues…

Orbital – ‘Are We Here? (Industry Standard Mix).’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.31)

R.O.C. -‘Girl With A Crooked Eye.’ mp3 (1994 Festive fifty no.46)

That Dog -‘One Summer Night.’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.26)

Thanks for help with completing these is due to Max for That Dog and R.O.C. and Tom for Orbital. Bless you, guys.

Meanwhile – if you enjoy the eclecticism of the Festive Fifties, check out Teenage Kicks. Deepest sympathies to Steve, whose computer is down and he can’t post stuff at the moment.

Hope you’re having a good weekend wherever you are…

Yet Another Festive Fifty-themed post

Here are ten songs today from the legendary Festive Fifty compiled by John Peel. As yesterday’s entry focused on the eighties, it seemed only fair to do the nineties today. Some of the records were obscure, but other artists went on to do massively well. Much like the eighties, in fact.

The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy -‘Television: The Drug Of The Nation.’ mp3 (1992 Festive Fifty No.38)

Dawn Of the Replicants -‘Science Fiction Freak.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty No.29)

The Orb -‘The Box.’ mp3 (1996 Festive Fifty No.7)

The Fall -‘Bill Is Dead.’ mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty No.1)

Nirvana -‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.27)

Hefner -‘The Hymn For the Cigarettes.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.2)

Orbital -‘Blue Room.’ mp3 (1992 Festive Fifty No. 20)

AC Acoustics -‘I Messiah Am Jailer.’ mp3 (1997 Festive Fifty no.19)*

Slowdive -‘Catch the Breeze.’ mp3 (1991 Festive Fifty No.20)

Paris Angels -‘All On You(Perfume).’ mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty no.6)

* OK, I’m aware that there were only thirty-one records in the chart that year due to restrictions on John Peel’s time. But you get the point, yes?