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purlieu last won the day on April 18

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  1. Yeah, most of the instrumentals feel empty because... well, I suppose they are. I like the first track and the three instrumentals (including 'Risky'), but the rest of it I thought was pretty middling really. I've reapproached it many times and just never seem to get into it.
  2. Hahah. Sadly I don't actually know very much behind-the-scenes stuff about anyone other than FSOL, otherwise I'd do one for all my favourite bands. There must be an Orbital superfan out there who can indulge us though.
  3. In Sides and Snivilisation are the peak and excellent starting points. Sniv is a lot tougher sounding overall, whereas In Sides is more expansive, and intentionally soundtracky, lots of live drums too which make it feel a touch less overtly 'electronic'. If you like those two, they're worth a start-to-finish listen as they have a great development. Generally the '90s era is fascinating to follow, as their earlier stuff is heavily rooted in acid house and Detroit techno, then they gradually expand their sound and move further away from that right through to In Sides. The Middle of Nowhere is strong but also explains why they changed afterwards, as they're clearly working to a formula. The EPs and singles are often worth a punt as they have lots of non-album material. Chime - Omen - III EP - Midnight/Choice: great early singles, 11 original tracks plus some great self-remixing tracks on the Omen 12". Orbital: first self-titled album (also called Green, Yellow or LP CD MC), only contains one tracks from those singles, plus a couple of live-in-studio re-recordings. Warm analogue techno, quite straight-forward but masterfully done. Mutations: contains a couple of great reworkings by the band (Chime Crime and Farenheit 3D3) that expand the originals somewhat, as well as remixed by other artists. Radiccio EP: three non-album tracks that are much 'bigger' sounding, denser sounding with more sampled breaks. Orbital: second self-titled album (also called Brown), contains a re-recording of 'Halcyon' from Radiccio. Chunky breaks-led techno, a number of the tracks blend together making it feel like a 'journey' and a much more consistent album than the debut. Diversions: compiles material from the Lush single, Peel Sessions EP and a new recording of 'Impact'. A nice roundup of the era. Snivilisation: finds them experimenting with slower tempos, more samples, side-long tracks, jungle and punk sounds and more overt political ideas. Far less accessible than their other records, it took me years to get into but is probably my favourite now. Times Fly EP: stopgap EP, expanding on the jungle and trip-hop elements of Sniv. The Box: four untitled tracks that link together with creaking, ticking clocks, whistling and other atmospheric sounds, with lots of acoustic sounds (synth modelling or samples), creating a pretty sinister soundtrack feel. Probably their most unusual release. First CD I ever bought! In Sides: epic soundtrack-inspired record with a lot of lengthy tracks - the 3LP version is presented as six tracks - and heavy atmospherics. Pretty varied, but consistently brilliant. Mostly live drums giving it a more organic feel. The Middle of Nowhere: '90s Orbital-by-numbers, no great surprises but a lot of strong tracks nevertheless. A bright and colourful album that feels like the close of their first era. The Altogether CD2: if you can track down the 2CD version, the second disc has all the b-sides from this album and the previous, which is worth listening to first. All the TMON b-sides are more techno-esque than the album itself, largely using drum machines rather than live drums. The Altogether CD1: the marmite album. Much poppier, with only one lengthy track, a lot of novelty/retro sounding samples, a strong electro influence replacing the techno and breaks side of them. A partially successful experiment, but not likely to scratch your Orbital itch. Rest & Play EP: weird odds and ends from the Work best-of era, including a fairly bad Eurodance lead track. Basically all reworkings of old tracks and such. Honestly, this is probably their worst release, but it's fascinating as it feels very barrel-scraping in a way that's so unlike them. Blue Album: an intentional 'final album', it opens with bold and beautiful 'Transient', followed by some decent tracks and a largely poor second half. The production is very different to their other albums which makes it just sound really odd. Don't Stop Me / The Gun is Good: a non-album double A-side recorded after they reformed. Longer and more dance-oriented, the tracks feel like an intentional step away from the previous two records. Production is very 'modern'. Wonky: comeback album that surprised everyone by being surprisingly decent. Again it feels like they're intentionally drawing on their classic sounds, to the extent that it feels a little too obvious, and the production is still modern four-to-the-floor dance throughout, making it sound a bit unexciting, but there are plenty of bangers. As well as a shit brostep track and weird grime-house crossover thing. Monsters Exist: second comeback album. A very weird mixed bag that has a couple of very retro Orbital sounding tracks, some very contemporary EDM-inspired production, and a few slower tracks that feel like a new direction. Probably the most daring and admirable album since the '90s, but it loses points for feeling a bit oddly incomplete: a couple of tracks are about half as long as they need to be ('Buried Deep Within' should be a proper epic but ends just as it really gets going), and two discs of b-sides on the super deluxe edition offer a few tracks that are stronger than the main album. It's nice to know that they're really trying again, though. Hmm, that turned out longer than I expected. They've also done a few soundtracks and solo albums, but none of them are strong enough to recommend on a first pass, nor do they really add anything to the 'story'. Arguably you could include Paul Hartnoll's 8:58 album between Wonky and Monsters Exist as Paul started writing it as the ninth Orbital album (he gets a lot of solo writing credits on recent albums), but it's a fairly middling set of Orbital-esque pop songs with guest vocalists for the most part. With the exception of a couple of b-sides featuring Grant Fulton, I think vocals in Orbital only really work when they're abstract/wordless stuff like Alison Goldfrapp's many contributions.
  4. I'm not the biggest fan of 'Meltdown' in general, so the album version is enough for me. It's got some cool bits, but the drums always seem strangely stilted. Can't help feel a breaksy track needs a little more groove to it. It's also really, really out of place on a largely electro-influenced album. Lots of Roland drum machines, old analogue, cheeky retro samples, it just sounds bizarre in that context. Although speaking of the 24 minute version, I really should get my Altogether DVD out again, it's been a while since I went through it. I remember having so much fun exploring all the menus and angles back in the day, must have spent hours on it. It's such a shame really cleverly designed, super-interactive DVDs like that were such a short lived thing. Kind of agree that there haven't been any 100% classic Orbital records this century. Blue is the only one I don't really rate, but the other three manage to have a couple of really subpar tracks, and the last two have had that horrible EDM drum production that makes them sound so lifeless in comparison with the classic stuff. They're still capable of making absolute bangers though - 'New France', 'One Big Moment', 'PHUK', 'Tiny Foldable Cities', 'Stringy Acid', all up there.
  5. I would have included Beelzebeat, but... well, it's technically a remix of Funny Break, so I left it off.
  6. 1. Tension 2. Funny Break (One is Enough) 3. Tunnel Vision 4. Oi! 5. Pay Per View 6. Lost 7. Tootled 8. You Lot 9. Shadows 10. Monorail 11. Transient Yeah, that would work pretty well. On the whole I actually quite like The Altogether. It took a long time to click but I'm fond of it now. I wrote this about it on Discogs: Orbital cut ties with their club roots - temporarily at least. The Altogether got a lot of flak when it came out, from myself included. The chunky drum sounds, the long unfurling epics interspersed with occasional club bangers: all gone. Orbital's pop album: something, it seemed, that nobody really wanted. Strong lead single - and the most classic-Orbital sounding track here - 'Funny Break', gave listeners false expectations. So the disappointment on initial plays led to an understandably negative response. In hindsight, I find it a lot easier to be positive about the album for what it is: a very brave record. Previous album The Middle of Nowhere was solid, but found them out of new ideas - Orbital by numbers. Instead of continuing down that path with diminishing returns, they decided to mix things up entirely. The snippets of pop songs and '70s sci-fi that littered their tracks in the past now take the fore. Parts of the record - most notably 'Shadows' - preempt the hauntology movement, with a strong influence from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. 'Waving Not Drowning', ties together folky acoustics and basic analogue electronics in a disturbingly cheery kids TV theme. 'Pay Per View' skews lounge music into strange territories; 'Tootled' does the same with metal, sampling heavily from Tool. 'Tension' and 'Oi!' have tongues firmly fitted in cheeks, retro sounds and chirpy melodies mashing together rockabilly and rave. It's not all great. 'Last Thing' is b-side quality, 'Doctor?' is a novelty step too far - a fun live track that should have been kept to the stage - and the less said about David Gray's appearance on 'Illuminate' the better. 'Meltdown' is decent but totally unfitting for the album. The album's artwork is really quite bad, even by the retro tongue-in-cheek feel of the album (bring back the old logo and swirly emblem!) The Altogether is never going to be reassessed as a masterpiece, but I think it's time it gets a wider reappraisal. It's a bold record, a band trying a totally different approach after taking their classic sound as far as possible. It's intentionally retro sounding, and intentionally poppy, so those kitsch, cheesy sounds people often complain about are being unfairly misjudged. It might not be the most successful experiment ever, but it's an admirable one, and one that yields some excellent results in hindsight. The US version features a generous, if slightly muddled, bonus disc, featuring all the original non-album material from the 'Style', 'Nothing Left', 'Beached' (sadly not 'Beached' itself, with the rights being owned by 20th Century Fox) and 'Funny Break' singles, plus the Altogether DVD bonus track 'Monorail'. Although these are almost all ostensibly the band's remixes of their own material, Orbital come from the same school of artists as FSOL and Underworld when it comes to reworking their own tracks into wonderful new, often unrecognisible, tracks. The menacing electro-breaks of 'Beelzebeat', for instance, started life as 'Funny Break', although one would never know by listening. 'An Fhomhair' is an acidic (and far superior) take on TMON's 'Otono'. 'Weekend Ravers' turns 'Funny Break' into a storming progressive trance number. 'Old Style' begins by reprising the melody from 'Style', before moving into an entirely new piece with an early rave feel. The sole wholly original piece here, 'Mock Tudor' is possibly the best, a stunningly beautiful piece of analogue techno in 7/4. In terms of consistency and track quality, this bonus disc is one of the finest discs in the band's extensive catalogue. Unfortunately, the production styles of The Middle of Nowhere and The Altogether are incredibly at odds, giving the mixed running order a somewhat clumsy feel. 'Beelzebeat' seems immediately garish when followed by the chunky analogue sound of 'Nothing Left Out'; 'Monorail' suffers similarly sat between two more TMON-era pieces. A purely chronological running order, putting the various 'Style' mixes next to each other would have made an equally unsatisfying listen, but I still think the running order could do with more work to make the disc sound more cohesive. Regardless, despite the criticisms I do have of this two CD set, they are mostly minor in comparison to the numerous highlights found here. To any newcomers to Orbital potentially put off by the negative response The Altogether has received, I'd strongly recommend giving this 2CD set a listen, as there is a lot to love if approached from the right perspective.
  7. Yeah, I get what you're saying. I love 'Transient', the four after it are all decent and would probably be fine on earlier albums with slightly better production, but tracks 6-8 are a career low point. 'Acid Pants' is one of the most annoying pieces of music I've ever heard. The radio version of 'One Perfect Sunrise' is an edit of Phil's remix, isn't it? Haven't heard that in ages, must check it out again.
  8. Oh Christ, I hate One Perfect Sunrise. Always sounded like self-parody to me, "we need to end our career on something like Halcyon or Are We Here". Coupled with the fact that Lisa Gerrard has such a wonderful, diverse range and yet after Gladiator the only thing anyone ever wanted her to do was that voice, and some pretty questionable Eurotrance style synth choices... ugh, no, horrible track.
  9. The first half of Blue has some great tunes, but the production always makes it sound really cheap to me. Compare 'You Lot' with something like 'Way Out' or 'Crash and Carry' and it sounds like it's being played through a phone speaker in comparison. 'Transient' is a career highlight, mind.
  10. God I'm really happy to hear them using a looser drum sound again.
  11. The slow, chuggy feel to this is definitely pretty different to most of the recent stuff which I'm happy about. There's a stylistic similarity to a lot of the recent stuff, both Humanoid and FSOL, which definitely isn't something I associate with FSOL - Dead Cities has to be one of the most varied albums of its kind - so the fact that Rituals has a few more styles to it is a big plus here.
  12. Struggling with some pretty severe post-Covid shit at the moment so I won't be updating my blog anytime soon, but these were my first thoughts on listening to the album: Hopiate - Opens with Lifeforms-era samples. Piano, synths, rich and beautiful opening atmospherics, big bass line comes in - this is the track that was on Alan's mix a couple of years ago. Really energetic, uplifting, a wonderful way to open the album. Strings and guitars. Would be surprised if this wasn't a Gaz-heavy track. The '93/'94 sounds are a bit strange, I don't think I've heard '90s elements used so heavily in a new piece before. "You're not going to kill me". Slowed down voice sample, very '90s FSOL too. Triple Circles - Tinny drum machine, background atmospherics. Choir like synth pads, twinkly melodies come in in the second half, then dark, heavy bass. Beats alternate between a slow, hip-hoppish groove and faster, more skittery rhythms. Very much in line with the style of recent tracks, could probably pass for Humanoid. Thick, heavily compressed mix. A good example of the style. Somewhere Outside - Light, clattery ethnic percussion, acoustic guitar arpeggios and loops, chopped and pieced together. Guitar probably recoded at the same time as 'Sense of Being'. Becomes pretty glitched and mangled as it goes on. A brief environment. Ritualised - As expected, this is 'Rituals' from the last year's Touched mix. Very, very glad this is here, love this track. Really reminds me of a more ethereal version of 1995 track 'Cow'. The violin in the second half is beautiful, and it contrasts wonderfully with the raw, chunky beats. Fades into field recordings... Time Cone - ...which continue here. Minor key synth arps, an odd churning lo-fi rhythmic loop. A hint of Brian's more hauntological projects and even a touch of Zeebox in the rhythm. Fades out to wind sounds, then some synths which are from, I think, an E6-era track, but I can't place them. That or they're similar! Nice to get a closing environment within an index again! Closes with a voice asking "what do you feel?" Solar Signals - Eerie opening sounds, reversed breathy synths/filtered voice samples. Back into more IDM territory again, dark atmospherics, drum machine beats, bleepy melodies. There's a lot of texture in here, though, rather than some of the more minimal sounding tracks we've had on calendar albums and so on. Sand to Ocean - Fittingly opens with seashore field recordings, waves and gull cries. Suddenly it's into fast IDM territory again, but with a big, almost sentimental sounding melody. The synths here actually remind me of some late '90s Eurotrance thing, more than a touch of Chicane to it. Beats are all over the place, never solidifying into a groove but being more textural. I am a massive romantic wanker at heart and this ticks all the boxes for me. Cheesy but beautiful. Far Seeker - Slow breaks, more hip-hoppish territory again. Not the direction I envisaged FSOL taking at this point, but it works. Dark but emotive melodic synth stuff, distorted 303 lines coming in during the second half. A quick break for metallic percussion - xylophones? - and back into the beats again. Slowly Slipped Away - This is 'Rain Forest', the synth and flute track from Mind Maps. The album's second ambient piece! A really beautiful track, and I'm glad it's got a home on a 'proper' album. Closes on sung female vocal samples. Visibility Accumulation - Drum machine that sounds like it's falling apart. Thick, noisy synths, layers of crumbly fuzz. God, this doesn't sound remotely like any other FSOL material. Reminds me of that track from Autechre's Plus with the 808 in it. I Am Error - If you'd asked me to guess what this track would be like, I wouldn't have said a minute of ambience based around snakey flute loops followed by distorted hip-hop drums and deep, booming bass. Colour Primary - Detuned, BoC-like synths, some samples and field recordings that are familiar from the past but I can't remember when, gurgling sounds and other textural noises. Slightly child-like melody that acts as a nice respite from the rather heavy going bunch of tracks preceding it. Time Passed the Sun - More slow drum loops, backwards acoustic guitars, field recordings, layers of thick synth pads. Flute melodies and tabla loops give it a slightly more ethnic/world feel in the second half. Something about it really reminds me of The Day the Poles Shifted from 6.5, might be the combination of the flute, bass and tempo, but it's got that feeling. "As for you, as for you..." Ebb Flow - Lo-fi piano loops and improvisation. I wonder if this is a Pemberton collab? The first modern classical-leaning piece on the album and a stylistic link to the earlier Environments volumes. Avoiding Mirrors - Clattering, skittery beats, starts quite minimal and repetitive but pads come in and open the sound stage right up. Flute samples bring it back to the ethnic vibe of the album at the end. Clone A9 - Twinkly IDM, synth arpeggios and glitchy drum machines, the usual suspects, but with some lo-fi beats and a growling bass sound that give it a much rougher feel than the 6/6.5 material in this style. Only in Memories - Rainfall. Synth melodies and drum loops fed through some weird filters. Gives the impression of gradually being flushed down a plughole. Very, very strange and a typically odd way to close the album. Quiet field recordings fade to end. My first reaction to this, bizarrely, is immediately hearing a lot of the other recent material in a different context. I was a touch worried that it might be as stripped back and cold as a lot of the Calendar tracks, but that's not even remotely the case here. The more IDMish tracks feel like they've combined that recent direction with the crumbly textures and field recording layers of Environmental and Views and the rich melodies of the earlier Environments series. With things like Calendar albums, it feels like we've been allowed a look into the creative process behind the sessions for this album, hearing tracks that didn't fit the mood or style of the record and one-off experiments, rather than an actual signifier of where FSOL was heading next. Tracks like 'Zen Jenny' and 'Alertions' have as much to do with the sound of Rituals as 'Mango Tree' and 'Skinny Ribber Fucker' have to do with the sound of Dead Cities. I was honestly expecting the album to be an extension of the more Humanoid-leaning fast IDM sound of a lot of recent tracks, so the number of slower tracks mixed in with those was a nice surprise. I know there's been a touch of sameyness to some recent releases that has worried a few people, but this does - thankfully - feel like a real step forward. It doesn't sound like any previous FSOL record, especially on tracks like Visibility Accumulation. If I had to compare it to a past album, I'd say it's closest to ISDN, definitely sharing some of the album's rawness and dark atmosphere. Rituals is a very good title as there's a certain 'primitive', almost tribal feel to it. If I had to place it in a 'world' on first listen, I'd say the working title of 'Slowly Slipped Away' is perfect: Rain Forest. A journey through a dense and very unfriendly jungle. Overall, a real growth from the previous albums and a superb record in its own right. I would say it's possibly the closest to '90s FSOL of all the new material (ie Envi 4 onwards), whilst sounding completely new and fresh at the same time.
  13. Haha, welcome to every other discussion on the FSOLBoard these days. I think the first track on this album is confirmation that Gaz is definitely still part of FSOL. That's all I'll say on the matter.
  14. Download, CD and further LPs from Bandcamp on Friday. The album's really good. Not what I was expecting, it's pretty different to the Calendar albums and things they've been putting out since E6/6.5/Environmental. It's more like a cross between that trilogy and ISDN, if anything.
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