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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 5 May 2001
Like many of the other reviewees here I was a little disappointed with this album after my first couple of listens. However I remember saying that of Snivilisation and that has become de rigeur falling to sleep music (God help you if you wake up again during the "Technology..." bit though!) Hopefully The Altogether will be another grower.
"In Sides" was an album that had it all, long immersive techno songs that had playability and longevity. After a long break I didn't expect much of Middle of Nowhere when I bought it but was blown away by the first track which took me straight back to the complexity of "In sides". The Altogether just doesn't seem to deliver the same kick, I mean it is more a collection of songs than an album if you catch my drift. Whereas the others seemed to fit together as cohesive units (did anyone ever really need a track list?) this one is the least "Altoghther" of the lot.
Oh and I imagine I'm going to be in the minority for this, but doesn't anyone think that the Dr ? song is a bit like The Saint i.e. a B-side at best and actually quite annoying and distracting in the middle of an album. Talking of which the remixes of Funny Break are actually worth the price of the CD-singles (as is the Beetlebum track!)
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on 10 September 2008
I must confess that this album was a huge disappointment to me when it first came out but it has since grown on me considerably. To me it will never be a match for Orbital's greatest works; The Brown Album, Snivilisation, In Insides and the Middle of No-Where, but it still contains some great tracks.

Orbital seemed to take a different approach to this album. Gone are the longer, epic tracks, that were so prevalent on their earlier works. The tracks are generally much shorter and more diverse in style. This took a lot of getting used to for me because I was used to listening to Orbital albums in their entirety with tracks blending slowly into eachother and taking the listener on a voyage. This collection is much more schizophrenic. However it can still be enjoyable.

The duo draw on Punk Rock influences for tracks 'Tootled' and opener 'Tension'. Tension is a roar, stomper of a tune in a similar style, but not as good as, Satan. This tune translated very well in the live environment when they toured this album. Tootled, on the other hand, is a bit of a disappointment. The track samples a guitar riff from Tool's 'Sober' (a track I have always loved) but fails to do it justice. At the peak of their powers, Orbital would have taken this track to new dimensions. Instead the riff dominates the track too much and what we get is a repetitive techno rock affair that doesn't go anywhere.

Tracks such as 'Oi' and 'Waving Not Drowning' showcase a more playful and lighthearted side of the band but whereas Oi samples Ian Dury to create a magnificant funky toe-tapping delight, Waving Not Drowning becomes irritating and sounds as if its almost embarassed by itself.

There are more familiar sounds here too. 'Pay Per View' is in the more downtempo, spaced out jazzy vogue of some of the tracks off Snivilisation and 'Shadows' takes returns Orbital to their slighlty unsettling and trippy dimensions. These are very good and solid songs but to me not up with the brother's very best work.

The first single, Funny Break, however is an excellent tune and amongst Orbital's very best singles with lush female vocals, and heatwarming melodies. 'Illuminate' which was the follow up single uses the voice of David Gray. The result is a and much more conventional, electro poppy song structure. Its pleasant if unspectacular.

With 'Doctor Who', the band introduce their own interpretation of the theme to the TV show to great effect but in my view the standout Tracks are 'The Last Thing' and 'Meltdown'. 'The Last Thing' is a catchy, dancy number full of sytnth stabs and a powerful and distictive base sound. 'Meltdown' is classic Orbital. By far the longest song on the album the track forms many guises on an unsettling, harsh journey that is never predictable. The track goes from ambient to rock rhythms, to drum and base rhythms and back again and is never dull. The version featured here is about 11 minutes long but even this is considerably edited down from the original full length version (which is is even better) to be found on the DVD release of the Altogher album. In fact, if you can get your hands on it I highly recommend the DVD version of the Altogether. The videos lift many of the tracks to higher levels and the sound output is in 5.1. I would certainly give it 4 stars.

This release, however, only gets 3. I feel a little harsh but I am marking Orbital against their own very high standards displayed elsewhere in their catalogue. Bizarrely this album might be of greater appeal to those unitiated with Orbital's style of music. If you want to hear experimental, quirky dance, in a more accessable song based format and don't have the attention span to listen to longer 10 minute tracks then maybe this album is for you. I know some people who love this album and I would certainly give the guys and abundance of credit for trying something new at this point in their career rather than going down tried and tested routes - too many bands are too keen to stay in their comfort zone.

If you're more serious about finding out what Orbital were really all about though, go on for one of the albums I mentioned at the beginning of the review.
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on 29 October 2003
After I heard Lucky break on the radio, I was dead set on buying this album. Usually what happens is, you like one song but don't know the rest but you buy the album anyway and it turns out to be a mistake. Not with this. I have very few albums that I keep coming back to, and this is one of them. It's not just that the tracks are musically brilliant, it not just that a David Gray cameo appearance tops off the album with a fantastic song, it's not just the exhilleration of the deep bass creeping up the walls from the floor, nor is it the fizzing trebble that makes the hairs stand on the back of my neck, it is that this album is without age. I will still list it amoungst my top 10 albums in 10 years time. I can't wait for more from this pair.
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on 2 May 2001
I do find it quite strange that a lot of Orbital fans have rebelled against this record. 'Snivilisation' was blessed with Celtic vocals, floaty melodies and an underlying eco-awareness message. 'Middle of Nowhere' in contrast, was bouncy, lively and incredibly catchy. 'The Altogether' seems to be a natural progression that is a little cheeky at times ('Doctor?') but essentially jam packed with clever hooks and surprisingly harsh beats ('Tension').
Perhaps the presence of David Gray on 'Illuminate' is a bit annoying but the electro-mosaic beats goes some way in redeeming this. 'Pay Per View' is the slowest track on the record and it's a sexy dirty tune and an ideal soundtrack to a weekend in Amsterdam (not that I'd know!). It doesn't need to be said but Funny Break is infectious whilst 'Last Thing' is typical classic Orbital with catchy melodies and demonic drumbeats combined ingeniously. 'Tension' sounds like a remixed version of P.E.T.R.O.L and 'Oi' is reminiscent of early Adamski stuff, which is nice. I am still confused to why people have taken such a dislike to a record that brims with confidence, innovation and talent.
I agree that it may lack the seamless production of 'Middle of Nowhere' but this isn't anything other than what Orbital have done in the past. Like most Orbital albums, you can't expect to boogie down to it immediately. You really have to absorb it and let it grow within you and when you do, it's an amazing journey through melodic sounds, mesmerising beats and celestial synths. Trust me and more importantly, trust the genius and experience of the Hartnoll Brothers, this is good stuff.
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on 12 July 2001
Right... i love Orbital as much as the next man, but i feel they've been in danger of sounding a little too much like themselves lately. I can hear people shouting, "But there's singing on it!" And...? I like this album, but there's nothing, in my opinion that matches classic tunes like the majestic "The Girl With The Sun In Her Head", the frightening "Impact", or the plain fantastic "Halcyon". I'm not stuck in the past, i just remember hearing these tunes and thinking they sounded like nothing else on earth. I remember hearing "Are We Here?" at their first Glastonbury show. It sounded like the world was gonna end. I think this problem started with "The Middle Of Nowhere". Again, a fine album. It just sounds a bit too much like Orbital for it's own good. I make an exception for "Funny Break". It is beautiful. Full stop. As i said, i like this album. I just wanna hear something a bit more forward looking next time.
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on 3 May 2001
Yep, this is pretty cool. Orbital have spawned a rather wide variety of followers, who all admire the band for their various styles and 'BPM' fluxations. I can see where the mixed opinion has come from for this album, it's got something for everyone but it's not gonna satisfy most people fully. Whereas previous albums have usually remained with a single mood all the way through, 'The Altogether' hops all over the place with more 'sinister' tracks than usual, it even includes a vocal track with David Gray (didn't work for 808' and Berny Sumner, doesn't work here - sorry David!). Anyway this is Orbital like I remember way back with the original 'Satan' and I can't help but love it!
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A new orbital album being released is for me the highlight of my year. Being the only group for years who have captivated me enough to consider myself an avid fan, the boys are back and for me not a moment too soon.
The thing is, who else produces a sound and style of music like this apart from the hartnoll bros and I know people already consider this album a mixed bag of tricks and some die hard fans are not keen on some of the tracks (wake up, stop living in the brown album era) especially Illuminate with David grey but after listening to it a few times you realise that the album is a crossroads for them, a testing ground. After Green and Brown came Snivalisation which changed there direction as they hard acid overtones of the first two slip into the spaced out Insides. So after Insides and Middle of nowhere it is logical to have another album that will change their direction again. Like all good groups that last, the music they create grows and matures with each album to match the times. (Chime may be a classic but I doubt it would be in the charts today) The Altogether like snivilization sounds like another stage in the Orbital evolution process.
Tension is a stormin', bass pumpin, mad drums being beaten to death sort of track that will make wanna dance like a loon, think satan in a bad mood. Funny break follows and while I was disappointed when I first heard it, put it on straight after listening to Middle of Nowhere and it all becomes obvious as a link between the two albums and a step in progression of there sound. Oi, Pay per View and Last thing thing are all tracks with Orbitals trademark sounds and drums but seem less busy than Middle of Nowhere. Logical for them as it nows gives them chance to take there music in a different direction which starts to happen in the latter end of the album. Waving not Drowning is in my opinion is quite brillant sounding like a 60's guitar sampled acid party with strong does of happy hammond throw in. Yes it is almost cheesy in it's exagerated optimism but wait until your listening to it in the garden this summer after a few beers. Illuminate is the other track that really stands out. Although some people don't like it, I think that track could be the start of some very interesting music on the next album as making instrumental for so long must get slightly boring (samples of female vocals don't count) With a little more developement this could open up a whole new angle on their sound.
But as always the last track kicks ass and reminds you just who you are dealing with before drifting off and leaving you with that bitter taste in your mouth that lasts until the next album comes out The one thing that has annoyed me about the Altogether is the inclusion of Docter ?. I can see why the brothers never released it on a album before, whilst it is one of the best live, it seems to lose it's intensity on cd. Whether this is because it has been around for a bit and I wanted more new stuff on the album but it doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the tracks, even with them being quite different in there own right. Beware though, it will take a while for some tracks to "filter through yer 'ead" but as with all the great music that will still be listened to in years to come, the hooks are deep baby yea!.
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on 1 May 2001
At last, the long wait is over. After the spectaular 1999 album 'Middle of Nowhere' Orbital are back with this stunning follow-up. If you are familiar with the Hartnoll Brother's work then you will have a vague idea of what to expect, yet there are many surprises on this LP, some fantastic, others less so. When you first begin the listening journey of 'The Altogether' you will have mixed feelings, confusion will be the first as the harsh electro-bleepings and strange noises of the opening track 'Tension' will have you wondering what you have just purchased as it is painful listening an is the low point of the album, but when track two comes on you will automatically know you have purchaced a piece of pure chilled-breakbeat genius as 'Funny Break (One Is Enough)' is a fantastic piece of music and will leave you feeling both relaxed and impressed at the same time. Track 3, 'Oi!' is a pleasant enough song with some strange samples courtesy of Ian Dury's 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' of all things. Other contributors to this album include David Grey, US Metal band 'Tool', and Steve Ignorant of Punk band 'Crass'. Without needlessly going through all the other tracks on the album I'll mention some of the other main highlights of this LP include 'Last Thing', with it's electro breaks and pounding bass sounds sounds alot like tracks by breakbeat artists such as Rennie Pilgrem and T-Power. 'Doctor?' is the supurb Doctor Who theme tune remix, always played at Orbital's Live shows but never available on cd, until now, and is worth purchasing for this alone (I know many dedicated Orbital fans who will do just that). After all this you will have come to the obvious conclusion that I was impressed with this album, and you'd be right. It's an excellent addition to Orbital's growing Discography and makes for highly intelligent, sometimes relaxing, sometimes confusing, yet always somehow brilliant. I can conclude that if you are not familiar with Orbital's work then this album is exactly what you need to enlighten yourself, and also an excellent introduction to electro-breakbeat music.
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on 1 May 2001
Another Orbital album used to be reason enough to take a good look at your cd collection and decide that maybe some of those obscure techno records you cherished weren`t that great after all. However after last years slightly dissapointing "Middle of Nowhere" the Hartnoll brothers needed to deliver with this one. Starting off with `Tension` expectations are high - a rocket fuelled track with a hilarious/genius vocal loop that is sure to go down well live.After this aural bashing the melancholic strains of `funny break` yet again show Orbital have few peers when fusing sensual female vocal loops to melodic electronica. The Ian Dury sampled `Oi!`- late eighties house anyone? - sees the brothers stamp their own unique style on the blueprint and come up smiling.At this point it is clear that this album isn`t going to be the usual Hartnoll fare, and is all the more refreshing for it. `Tootled` takes some loops from experimental rockers Tool and welds them to a dark morphing bassline to stunning effect.`Pay per view` uses a sleazy 70`s bass and porn samples as its source and is transformed into something quite beautiful.Five tracks in and already i can see my C.D player gearing up for a long term relationship with this album.Unfortunately after the initial fun,things take a bit of a nosedive. `Last thing` - while containing all the classic elements you associate with Orbital never quite takes off the way it should,`Dr Who`is a great reworking but still feels a bit throwaway in context of the album -Why didn`t they release it as a B-side? `Shadows` sounds a like a half finished idea - maybe a reject from `the box` CD single.Illuminate feat. David Gray strives to be moving - but only succeded in nearly moving the contents of my stomach.`Waving not Drowning` rectifies matters somewhat if only by having the balls to sound ridiculously happy and without a care in the world. Which leaves us with `Meltdown` - if ever a track was needed to salvage a patchy album this has to be it.From the opening of breaking glass to its final moments this really is classic Orbital-inventive spine tingling music that deserves to rest next to classics like `the box`,`halcyon+on` and `belfast`. So after a great start this is a bit of a mixed bag - Maybe being the greatest live act around will ensure the Hartnolls will have a few more attempts at getting it right again on record.
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