Orbital - Wonky
Not that I’d go to Glastonbury but if there I’d walk straight passed festival fixtures Orbital to hunt out something a little more guitar orientated. That said, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Hartnoll brothers' musical exploits. Electronic dance music might not exactly be in my wheelhouse but like anything, when done well any genre can take hold in previously resistant territory.
Orbital’s history has followed the standard template: coming to prominence in the early 90s, they were critically and commercially successful surfing a wave of dance electronica. In passing into this century their star waned but they remained stalwarts of festivals and were championed for their innovative improvisations on stage; is it possible to think of Glastonbury without recalling them hunched over their equipment with those glasses with torch attachments? Inevitably they split in 2004 to pursue new musical projects. By 2008 however, Orbital were reunited first through live gigs and then ventures back into the studio. This has resulted in new album Wonky, some eight years after their previous album.
Wonky is recognisably Orbital-esque. They have returned to doing what they do best, with nods to the contemporary dance scene thrown in to show they’re not just a tribute act to their 90s peak. The tracks work as distinct entities, varying in composition, styling and tempo. At their core is an acid synth-led drive that will come across as well in a living room as it would at a festival or on a dance floor. That’s some trick to pull off and it’s something Orbital have achieved with this album with aplomb. Guest vocalists add to the proceedings on some of the tracks with the likes of the eclectic Zola Jesus featuring on 'New France', whilst grime emergent Lady Leshurr appears on the album's title track.
As the years rolled by there was an accusation that Orbital and their peers were producing dance music for people who didn’t want to go to nightclubs. The quality of this return makes such a comment moot. With Wonky, Orbital have placed a marker to demonstrate what great music is, regardless of the genre. Even a festival phobic like myself should really catch them live.