Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Experimental, upbeat� But with a wonderfully dark edge
on 12 May 2001
If, like some of the initial reviewers, I would've based my review on my first listen then my award perhaps have been only two or three stars. I've been a fan of the brothers for many years now and there have been many times when I've heard some of their new tracks and been amazingly under-whelmed thinking "what have they done?!" But that's just it; it's what *they've done*! It may seem a very abrasive album, not as accessible as their previous works, but give this album a few spins and it'll hook you. Yet again the Hartnol brothers have created a sleeper album, another classic that'll pass the general record-buying public, but reward those with perseverance with a varied and unashamedly experimental sound.
'Tension' launches straight into a wicked breakbeat mesh - harsh beats but full of rhythm.
'Funny Break [One's Enough]' couldn't be more of a contrast. From the energy-release of the preceding track to another trademark emotive set of melodies. Classic Orbital.
'Oi!' is yet another change of gear, moving into Ian Dury-sampling funk. It reminds me of elements of their album 'Snivilisation' yet at the same time it's something completely fresh.
'Pay Per View' is one of my favourite tracks from the album, very dark and haunting. What becomes clear by this part of the album is that there isn't really a common 'theme' as such to this album, unlike 'In Sides' (my personal favourite). They're rather like different snapshots.
'Tootled' is, as one of my friends described, "a total rock-chick of a track". It's an average Orbital track, it feels somewhat restrained, perhaps is the poor relation to 'Tension' only the breakdowns towards at the end give it a notable Hartnol edge.
'Last Thing' contrasts yet again; squelching acid breakbeats tinged with a somewhat eastern flavour.
'Doctor?' is set to become a classic. Orbital have produced a stunning re-working of the classic BBC theme. It's a homage that manages to stay true to the original theme yet becomes something that's perfectly danceable.
'Shadows' is my other slight disappointment on the album. It's another dark and atmospheric track, but one whose shuffling melody and vocals just don't seem to take off with the usual magic. Intriguing Tom Baker sampling though.
'Waving Not Drowning' kicks off the closing triumvirate of more, as the cliché goes, 'classic Orbital'. This track is another of my favourites, something completely new and very endearing. Definitely one for midnight driving.
Some of the response to the David Gray collaboration 'Illuminate' however has really surprised me. This track is another highlight on the album. Some accuse the Hartnoll's of selling out with this comparatively assessable 'mainstream' track - but those who know their Orbital will know that David Gray has been a close friend and relation of the band for some time. It'd be the perfect choice for a single, in my opinion. Gray's voice may be grating to some, but I find it accompanies the melancholic track perfectly - the result a very rare and moving full-vocal Orbital track.
Unlike the other varied and short tracks the closure of the album 'Meltdown' is a return to Orbital's perhaps more natural 'long play' territory clocking in at over ten minutes. A very deep and dark that's as epic as the tracks which closed 'In Sides' and 'The Middle of Nowhere'.
I will admit that this release has disappointed me slightly, but to maintain such quality throughout six albums is a remarkable feat. It will disappoint some, but stick with it for a few listens are you are rewarded with something that's very fresh, but still with that trademark sound. It's a perfect tonic to the stifling, moronic 'pop' and so-called 'alternative' (yet cloned) pap that pollutes the commercial airwaves these days.