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On September 4 Orbital release their stunning new album “The Altogether”. This is brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll’ sixth collection and the much-anticipated follow-up to 1999’ “The Middle Of Nowhere” — their third consecutive Top 5 LP. The ongoing Orbital experiment is now enjoying its eleventh year of success and, with “The Altogether”, the brothers demonstrate no signs of compromise. They continue to operate according to their own set of rules, outside the confines of current musical fads and trends. This time they have produced a concise album of mostly short electronic “songs” which, on occasion, feature the vocal talents of their friends Naomi Bedford and David Gray.
Also present in sample form is a host of unlikely cameos courtesy of US “metal” band Tool, Gothic-rockabilly headcases The Cramps and the Bananamen, erstwhile “Doctor” Tom Baker, Steve Ignorant of Anarchist punk outfit Crass and the sadly missed genius of Ian Dury (to name but a few).
“The Altogether” is made up of eleven very distinct pieces of music. So diverse, in fact, is the album that each track is almost entirely different from one to the next. The sounds range from shockabilly with post-Gabba undertones of the blistering opener “Tension”, to the claustrophobic heat of the sleazy “Pay Per View” (‘cheap thrills for bimbos and himbos in a Go-Go slopshop’), to the aching melancholia of “Illuminate”, to the cyber-surf music of “Waving Not Drowning”…..
Even before Orbital were commissioned by the BBC to record the music for the “Doctor Who Night”, the Hartnolls’ breakbeat-led version of the theme had become an integral part and one of the highlights of their live set. Two years later and after repeated requests from fans, disappointed that it could only be heard at gigs, Paul and Phil decided to re-record the track and include it on the album. The final track, “Meltdown”, is a version of a piece of music commissioned for the South Bank Centre’ festival of the same name in the year it was curated by Scott Walker. Here it appears in its ten minute incarnation, whilst the full seventeen minute version will be made available on the DVD release.
The album was produced by Orbital and Mickey Mann and was recorded over the space of a year at Orbital’ London studio. Final mixes were carried out at The Strongroom where further mixes in 5.1 SurroundSound were completed. The 5.1 mixes are intended for the DVD release.
Never a band to follow convention on any level, “The Altogether” displays Orbital in uncut form, operating at full-Throttle and shouting “this is what we are and what we do”. It’ the sound of a band supremely confident in their abilities, still unafraid to try out new things, and as such, this album can honestly claim to be Hartnolls’ best yet.