Wednesday, March 5, 2008
The Green Album (1991)
Orbital's untitled first LP, released in September 1991, consisted of all-new material — that is, if live versions of "Chime" and the fourth single "Midnight" are considered new works. Unlike the Hartnolls' later albums, though, the debut was more of a collection of songs than a true full-length work, its cut-and-paste attitude typical of many techno LPs of the time. During 1992, Orbital continued their chart success with two EPs. The Mutations remix work — with contributions from Meat Beat Manifesto, Moby, and Joey Beltram — hit number 24 in February. Orbital returned Meat Beat's favor later that year by remixing "Edge of No Control," and later reworked songs by Queen Latifah, the Shamen, and EMF as well. The second EP, Radiccio, reached the Top 40 in September. It marked the Hartnolls' debut for Internal Records in England, though ffrr retained control of the duo's American contract, beginning with a U.S. release of the debut album in 1992.
The Brown Album (1993)
Opening with a looped Star Trek sample, Orbital's second album progresses through eight tracks of warm, unrepetitive techno in what sounds more like a DJ mix album than an LP, with no bows to mainstream sensibilities. Here, the duo's acknowledged inspiration from Kraftwerk, present before but always in the background, came to the fore. The brilliant manner in which the Hartnolls weave several synth lines, samples, sung vocals, and percussion — mathematically precise but still beautifully orchestrated — updated Kraftwerk's mastery of minimalist electronic music. One of the highlights of the '90s techno movement, the "brown" album is still one of Orbital's most exciting work.
The U.S.-only albumlength Diversions EP released in March 1994 as a supplement to the second LP -- selected tracks from both the Peel Sessions and strong remixes from the album's single, "Lush."
The political commentary inherent in 1994's Snivilization extended even to the Top 30 single "Are We Here?," whose criminal justice bill mix voiced Phil and Paul's concern over what the bill might lead to — silence. Musically, the album delivers on the diverse promises of early B-sides "Choice" and "Belfast," with more harbingers to their thrash background — especially on "Quality Seconds" — and the addition of a third member, vocalist Alison Goldfrapp, on two songs. The shuffling, quasi-Eastern jungle rhythms of "Are We Here?," a beautiful piano run to begin "Kein Trink Wasser," and the glorious ambient climax "Attached" also reflect the fact that Snivilization is Orbital's most varied L
Are We Here (1994)
Asian sounding synths, great beats, great vocals. Luckily, the single holds up. The Who Are They? mix is like a different version of the last half of the album mix, with some new bits and pieces added in. The Do They Here? mix is very menacing-sounding, with the drums being all chopped up. The big surprise is the What Was That? mix, which is like a very relaxes and happy version, without most of the beats. The Industry Standard Version is a radio edit, but I noticed some vocal lines that don't appear on any other versions. This is definitely a must for Orbital fans.
Orbital - Work 1989-2002
Orbital - Halcyon (Best Of) (2005)