Release Date: Apr 02, 12
It’s been eight years since Orbital has released an album. After a long run from 1989 until 2004, the two brothers returned to the live stage, headlining 2009’s The Big Chill Festival.
Perhaps it is because Orbital’s reunion through live shows was met with such excitement and anticipation, that the momentum going into recording their new album Wonky finds the brothers picking up, arguably, from before where they left off. “The Big Moment” begins with some overlapping social commentaries set to a sweet melody of chimes and keys. It’s kind of reminiscent of “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” Mix. Though that ends and the fun begins. One thing is for sure, Orbital remains to have one of the cleanest sounds in electronic music. Each beat is crisp. The effects seem to be scrubbed down. The syncopation on all songs is brilliant. Even in this age of “everybody can dance,” it would be difficult to not fail at physically relating to this new album.
How is it different from what Orbital has done before? That’s the thing. It really isn’t. And that’s a good thing! It sounds and feels like a rave in the 90s. It has a freshness to it, specifically on the third track “Never.” And to say it has a 90s rave feel, this is not in the way of being reminded of that era, yet, as if it were that era without a future reference point.
Not until Zola Jesus makes an appearance on “New France” does the album feel particularly contemporary. And then with “Distractions,” the album kind of takes an early turn into a more neo-themed path. The longest track on the album, and arguably the best, “Distractions” has a sweet/sour opening, not sweet/sour as in good/bad, more like sweet/sour candy. A single word – “Everybody” – sings and warps throughout seamless changes.
For those who don’t remember the 90s rave scene, “Beezledub” is named for exactly what it is. And for an album that has naturally harkened back to its 20th century roots, the transition into dubstep is just as organic. However, if there is a point on that album that sounds a bit forced, or weak, it would have to be the title track featuring Lady Leshurr. The intro is a bit contrite and Lady Leshurr’s rap mid-song sounds a bit too 90s. I guess rapid-fire rapping is making a comeback. And then as she finishes and the music rushes back in, all techno-style, it would seem the track has failed. Not the case. A unique spiraling, warped effect saves it. And Lady Leshurr redeems herself, singing, “this beat is taking over me.” So when she raps again, it doesn’t sound so annoying, especially with the flumes of alien noise around her.
As usual, Orbital closes out with a party on the aptly titled “Where Is It Going?,” which could’ve doubled as the album title, considering the context.