Orbital Calls It Quits

After 15 years working together as Orbital, Paul and Phil Hartnoll have announced that their forthcoming LP, The Blue Album, will be their last. Paul Hartnoll explains how their latest CD came together, and why it will be their last.

“Orbital has run its course,” explains Paul. “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.”

From their beginnings producing simple but infectious top 20 Pop-Dance tunes to their more recent sophisticated top 5 Pop-Dance tunes, classic albums, film & TV scores and beyond, Orbital have crafted some of the most innovative yet accessible electronic music since their inception in 1989. One of their greatest achievements is their longevity, which is firmly based on a sound that is recognizably their own, coupled with a will to proceed at their own pace and on their own terms with little regard to the industry machinations that surround them or the musical fads and trends that come and go.

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.”

Noted for their collaborations, Orbital’s last album is no exception featuring work from fellow sibling legends, Sparks. “We wanted some vocals on the track Pants, something fairly odd, and thought Sparks would be perfect,” says Paul. “It turned out they’re quite up for a bit of collaboration and said yes when we approached them. After we’d asked them I set about listening to some of their recent work and was pleasantly surprised to find it was even more bonkers than their original stuff. It was all done across the Atlantic, via file sharing and CD’s, and when we heard it we realised it was really a track in it’s own right so we remixed it and it’s ended up here as Acid Pants, it’s own thing.”

“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 music’s sake, dodging all real instrument sounds.”

Blue Album Tracks

  1. Transient
  2. Pants
  3. Tunnel Vision
  4. Lost
  5. You Lot
  6. Bath Time
  7. Acid Pants
  8. Easy Serv
  9. One Perfect Sunrise

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