After 15 years working together as Orbital, Paul and Phil Hartnoll have announced that their upcoming recording, The Blue Album, will be their last.
“I think we feel that Orbital has run it’s course,” says Paul Hartnoll. “We’re both pursuing different avenues with our music. And we’ve been sat, as brothers, in the same room for 15 years now–and studios are always confined spaces–I think it’s time for a change.”
Since their first single, ‘Chime’ entered the top 20 in April 1990 Orbital have released six albums. They have helped to shape and develop both the character and credibility of electronic music beyond the acid house scene that they came from.
The brothers extra–mural interests have all informed the character of The Blue Album, the bands seventh, which evolved gradually over the course of 2003 with the band free from record company expectations and schedules for the first time since their career began. “If anything,” says Paul “It’s closer in character to our first album than our later ones, if only because we made it in our own time and for ourselves.”
Fans will recognise the trademark Orbital sound when they hear it. Familiar themes from previous albums, such as religion, are also present.
“There’s a couple of references to that,” says Paul. One of my favourite tracks, “You Lot” has got this speech from Christopher Eccleston from this fantastic drama called The Second Coming. I just really loved that programme and that speech is quite typically orbital, like our other track Forever, that’s got a speech halfway through and I really love the sentiment behind that. That whole programme was about the second coming, obviously, and God.”
“We’ve got another track [One Perfect Sunrise] we did with Lisa Gerrard who was in Dead Can Dance, singing on it. That’s a spin off from something we wrote for a Sunrise scene, in another film …that’s turned out well.”
Another audible influence on the album is that of legendary transsexual composer Walter/Wendy Carlos. “Absolutely,” says Paul, “I tried to do something with a sort of Clockwork Orange feel, and that became ‘Bath Time’ . It started off by being hummed in the bath on tour before I was about to go and meet everyone for a pint in San Francisco. Got out of the bath and scribbled it down on my laptop and finished it over last summer, adding little bits in buses and vans while I was travelling. And it went on from there. It became like Clockwork Orange and Kraftwerk combined. Electronic music for electronic musics sake, dodging all real instrument sounds. Wheras ‘Easy Serve’ is weird supermarket muzak, almost like hospital muzak. Maybe it’s a supermarket where they only sell hospital items. Here’s the lip section…Either way, it’s not going to be a coffee table album. But then we’ve never done one of them. Maybe a coffee table album at three in the morning, when everyone is blind drunk and no one can remember anything anyway.”
With the album complete, the band is turning their attention to their final show at Glastonbury. An appropriate venue for a farewell as it was here, exactly ten years before that Orbital delivered a live show that Q magazine listed as one of the fifty greatest live show of all time. “It’s nice to know that we’re finishing, it’s not many bands that do that. They tend to just fade away. And it’s nice to have our last gig at Glastonbury. It’s gonna be a party set, a best of Orbital. We’re not gonna sit there and try and promote the new album. I think if we’re gonna do a last gig we should do distilled set of all the best stuff we’ve done. And that’s what we’re gonna do, play all the stuff that’s stuck around for all this time because they are the favourite ones. This will definitely be our last ever live shows,” confirms Paul, “Although I’m sure Status Quo keep telling themselves the same thing.”
Details on their upcoming album are available at the Orbital site.