The Ideal Condition is the debut album from Paul Hartnoll, previously one half of pioneering electronic group Orbital who split in 2004. It's an expansive and melodic piece of work which combines epic orchestral arrangements and poignant electronica, showing a real warmth and depth of soul. The Ideal Condition sees a continuation of the cinematic soundscapes favoured by Orbital, updated with a fusion of evolving, electronic beats and acoustic instrumentation.
''Please'', the first single from the album, is a stabbing textured track featuring the dark and introspective vocals of Robert Smith from The Cure, evoking his trademark forlorn singing style, with hints of desperation and pleading in his voice. Rolling electronic beats provide the backdrop and the track is softened by backing vocals from Lianne Hall; who features on the first track ''Haven't We Met Before''.
''Haven't We Met Before'' provides the album with a grand introduction, conjuring similarities to the opening act of an opera or classical composition. The full orchestra and 32 piece choir establish this album as a remarkably spacious production, drawing from a variety of different genres; acoustic instrumentation, folk and progressive dance elements, which combine to take the listener on an emotional journey. The feeling of motion is reinforced on the fifth track ''The Unsteady Waltz'' which recalls elements of classic minimalist piece ''Different Trains'' by composer Steve Reich. The driving, melodic narrative conjures images of travel, a similar theme repeats in the driving synthesizer of ''Simple Sounds''.
''Nothing Else Matters'' is a lush, string infused ballad featuring the distinctive voice of Akayzia Parker whose warm, rich vocals complement the strings and piano beautifully, producing a rousing love song punctuated by a gentle undulating drum beat. By far the stand out track from The Ideal Condition, ''Nothing Else Matters'' demonstrates Hartnoll's skill to combine the grand string infused sound of contemporary classical composition with a heavy nod to his electronic background. The Ideal Condition at times creates a haunting landscape, at others beautiful pop-tronica, definitely a musical journey worthy buying a ticket for. --Keira Sinclair
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