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- Wonky

Orbital are dance music’s original not-quite-superstars, a duo whose seven studio albums between 1991 and their 2004 split arguably constitutes a finer body of work than Underworld

Staff Writer

Apr 2nd 2012 | Label: Liberator
Orbital are dance music's original not-quite-superstars, a duo whose seven studio albums between 1991 and their 2004 split arguably constitutes a finer body of work than Underworld, The Chemical Brothers, et al. By the time of '04's The Blue Album, the law of diminishing returns had set in, so for the Hartnoll brothers to not only unexpectedly emerge eight years later with Wonky but also recapture some of the magic of their mid-'90s glory days is a very pleasant surprise indeed.

Wonky feels not so much like a collection of songs as an event, One Big Moment easing into focus like a rising sun as spoken word mutterings shift left and right – and then comes the drop, with Orbital's melodic quirkiness updated but fully intact. This is dancefloor magic for the discerning gurner, from the straightforward 4/4 beauty of Straight Sun to the self-explanatory bomb Stringy Acid to the Zola Jesus-featuring anthem, New France.

Longtime listeners may note the complex drum programming of earlier efforts is largely abandoned, but the panoramic Orbital synth sounds are as majestic as ever. And even the cursory nods to the present, such as the dubstep-influenced Distractions and Beelzedub and the portamento house of the title track, sound like the Hartnolls acknowledging dance music's current status quo rather than following it.

A bonus disc of classic tracks recorded live on 2010's rapturously received tour here (including a 19-minute take on Impact that defies description) is a sure sign Orbital and their minders have confidence in Wonky, and so they should – it's no Orbital 2/Brown Album or In Sides but easily their most cohesive full-length since 1999's The Middle Of Nowhere.


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