Orbital - 30 Something Music Album Reviews

Orbital - 30 Something Music Album Reviews
The iconic UK rave duo belatedly celebrates its 30th anniversary with a mixture of new songs, re-recordings of classic tracks, and remixes from the artists they’ve inspired.

A 30th anniversary is special for any band that makes it that far. For an electronic act forged in the spontaneous white heat of rave, it’s close to a miracle. Yet 30 Something, which belatedly marks UK rave veterans Orbital’s three decades in the trenches, offers a comprehensive argument as to why Paul and Phil Hartnoll have endured where the likes of N-Joi and SL2 have not. With a mixture of re-recorded hits, new songs, and remixes, the collection looks back on the fraternal duo’s origins while celebrating their late-blossoming influence.

This might be the key difference between 30 Something and Orbital 20, the singles collection that marked the group’s 20th anniversary. The two new remixes on that record, from Global Communication’s Tom Middleton and fidget houser Hervé, felt tacked on, only tangentially connected to the Orbital world. Thirteen years later, the duo’s rave-influenced, genre-hopping sound has rarely sounded more relevant, having found its reflection in producers like Lone, Logic1000, Jon Hopkins, and Shanti Celeste, all of whom feature here.

30 Something’s 15 remixes include a few incandescent highlights. Hopkins’ take on “Halcyon & On” adds a cute shuffle that wraps the song’s sunrise melancholy in a warm, fluffy blanket, while John Tejada cleverly cuts up the much-loved synths of “Impact.” Beyond the warm, self-referential glow of clever curation, though, most of the remixes feel like pale imitations. Orbital’s back catalog may be inconsistent but at their best—basically the first two albums—the band walked a spellbinding line between techno’s hypnotic sprawl, rave’s discordant riffs, and ambient house’s refined melodic beauty, with a little live rock noodling for good measure. It’s a difficult path to follow, and many of the remixes end up falling flat on their two-dimensional behinds. ANNA’s beefed-up take on “Belfast” feels too functional compared to the original’s heart-string-tugging choral charm, while Joris Voorn flattens out the cinematic quirks and kinks of “The Box” to leave us with a platitudinous tech-house number.

These remixes may dominate the 24-track collection, but the group’s original work wins out in spirit. Orbital have contributed two new songs, as well as a new mix of “Where Is It Going?,” their collaboration with Stephen Hawking for the 2012 London Paralympics Opening Ceremony. Infected with the bittersweet bite of nostalgia, “Smiley” and “Where Is It Going?” feel particularly poignant, both musically and thematically. The former lays clips of ravers talking about a police raid in August 1988—including a 20-year-old Paul Hartnoll describing how he was allegedly beaten by uniformed officers—over a clattering breakbeat, serpentine synth riffs, and moody chords. And the latter song’s celebration of the Large Hadron Collider feels particularly stirring in a world where the rigors of science have taken a beating from populist politicians.

The album’s peak is a set of new mixes of six of the band’s classic songs: “Impact,” “Satan,” “Chime,” “Halcyon,” “Belfast,” and “The Box.” (Well, five and a half: “The Box” never quite did it for me.) The 30 Something reworks are based on live versions that Orbital have been road-testing since they first stumbled onto the stage, which makes them something close to the definitive takes: towering, adrenaline-fueled, ever-expanding arrangements that wring every ounce of emotion, propulsion, and excitement from the songs’ once humble hearts.

This is the Orbital that millions of festival goers have bugged out to ever since 1990, when they made their first live appearance supporting the Shamen; this is the Orbital that a vast television audience experienced when UK national broadcaster Channel 4 aired the duo’s epochal 1994 Glastonbury gig. More importantly, this is Orbital at their scorching, sweeping, and melodic best. Orbital are a band that—on “Chime,” say—can work the atonal scramble of rave and into a neo-Gothic cathedral of electronic sound, all flamboyant melodic peaks and picturesque descents; a band who—on “Halcyon” or “Belfast”—can move you to tears with an elegiac sample even as the rhythm keeps your feet pumping. Would actual live versions of these songs have been better? Perhaps. But these live-inspired versions feel more universal, celebrating Orbital’s work as whole, rather than highlighting one specific gig.

Right from the start, Orbital were different: a duo of Crass- and Butthole Surfers-sampling, Doctor Who-loving punks-turned-ravers who valued live performance over DJ sets, progression over repetition, and impact over genre. At its best, 30 Something shows why this singular spirit has helped Orbital to become a group for the ages, an electronic act with soul and craft who never forgot the heart-rending and occasionally dumb rush of rave. Orbital’s second victory lap is inconsistent, but it is undoubtedly well earned.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Orbital - 30 Something Music Album Reviews Orbital - 30 Something Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, August 01, 2022 Rating: 5

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