Saturday, 14 April 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #138 - Orbital, "Wonky"

Should you ever go back, friends? Back in the Nineties, The Prodgy, Chemical Brothers and Orbital were as a triple-headed beast of joyous dance music. Orbital being the older and balder head of the three - with torches on its glasses.

"Chime" is still a huge majestic piece of honey-fried sunshine and a miracle of home-made music. Odin and all his little godlings were smiling on that tape deck that day and kissing and cuddling. It's never been up or around there since, but how could it be? Don't get me wrong, the next few albums they put out were great. "Satan" (especially the Spawn version with Kirk Hammett mashing up some guitar) is also immense. "Impact" and "Are We Here?" and even "Nothing Left" from 1999 were all great tracks. But "Chime" is the Dammy and Muddy of them all.

And so to the new "Wonky" album. It beings with "Love is wise/Hatred is foolish" and some John Hurt whispering hoarsely about surviving death and some Japanese and slivers of news reports about terrorism and cosmology. They're tickling the euphoria buttons again, those stubborn fucks. Even as notes tumble downwards in a way I lack the musicology to describe, it buzzes with good feeling. Yes, "One Big Moment".

"Stringy Acid" is definitely roaming around back in the genius territory of those twenty plus years ago. I don't know if I've ever heard a title that better describes the music either. So I won't try and describe it any more than that. It carries a lot of the signature Orbital moves too - banks of very-synthy strings and a cheerful propulsion that always sounds like Orbital.

They punt a leg into the dubstep pool with "Beelzedub", which is OK (title included) but doesn't get into much of a dialogue with the genre. Apart from some nice Amen break towards the end. Referencing "Satan" perhaps? (Course it is, Coc, you weapon! It's totally doing that throughout and that makes it better than OK. OK?) "Wonky" also brushes up against the genre of the same name (there was a genre called Wonky, right?) with rubbery bouncing noises crowding in from all areas. Tense and epic.

"Where Is It Going?" goes out with signature ... aargh! what is it? Purpose? Poise? Orbitalness! As a whole though, they seem keen to try different tacks. "Never" is too bleep'n'wash, too illwave or whatever the fuck. "New France" also never quite kicks out from between the two stools - too much of a pop wail, not enough momentum. "Distractions" has a nice paranoid, churchy element to it. But I'm going to betray any lingering faith in the present by saying I like the Orbital tracks that sound most like Orbital the most.

Rating: Wonky out of Euphoria

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