Review of Orbital 20 Album by Orbital

Review of Orbital's album Orbital 20 released through Rhino.

Orbital Orbital 20 Album

As undoubted pioneers of the whole warehouse rave-cum-techno/rock crossover scene, Orbital shouldn't need any introductions to anyone whose slept in a muddy field in the name of music these past two decades, or indeed stepped inside a murky dance-orientated club like, ever. With a career that has spanned twenty years, seven full length albums and countless remixes and reworkings of other artists they've more than earned the status of "legends" that adorns the inside cover of this two-disc boxset.

Debut single 'Chime', a near ten-minute opus that pretty much does what it says on the packaging over a series of cleverly constructed bleeps and beats, reinvented the whole drum and bass mantle in one foul swoop, as well as creating the initial Warp Records sound in the process which the likes of LFO, Nightmares On Wax and Squarepusher nurtured so successfully hereon after. Not bad going, it must be said, for two brothers from Sevenoaks reared on a love for DIY squatpunk such as Crass and The Subhumans.

Since then of course, Orbital became something of a house band for the Glastonbury Festival for over a decade, culminating in 2007's live album, each track culled exclusively from Worthy Farm at various points from 1994 onwards. And in a way, that's part of the problem with this, because there's a distinct feeling that in terms of compiling Orbital's best bits, we've been here once before. Add 2005's single-disc 'Halcyon' collection as well and you'd be hard pressed not to rename 'Orbital 20' with the subheading 'Déjà vu', such are the number of anthologies/best ofs/collections currently residing in the market place.

That said, one thing that cannot be undermined here is the quality of the music that's on offer, and although the Live Style mix of 'Chime' isn't quite up to the original's groundbreaking standards, it sets the scene perfectly for the other nineteen pieces that follow. 'Satan', 'The Box' and 'Belfast' all come and go like lost and found friends from a previous life, while most recent single 'One Perfect Sunrise' hints that despite age no longer being on their side, the Hartnoll brothers creative juices still flow with consummate ease.

Its hard to envisage many longstanding Orbital fans not already owning much of what's on offer here, and even the four previously unreleased tracks here are either remixes or live versions of staples from the pair's back catalogue - Tom Middleton's Re-Model mix of 'Halcyon' standing out - rather than brand new material.

However, as an introductory measure for anyone not entirely familiar with Orbital's output, this is as good a place as any to start, and even though there'll probably be an even more definitive compilation in the shops before long, it would be hard to imagine second-generation ravers such as Klaxons or LCD Soundsystem having a similar feat bestowed on them come the year 2027.


Dom Gourlay

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