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Named after Greater London's own circular autobahn, the M25, and central to the early rave scene and party network in the South East during the halcyon 'daze' of Acid House, Orbital is brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll. Founded in the late 1980s, Orbital released a string of classic 1990s singles including "Chime," "Style," "The Box" and "Satan." Paul and Phil put their partnership on hold in 2004, but a five-year absence only increased demand for their exhilarating music and legendary live shows.
Currently, Orbital is back in the ring with Wonky, their first new album in 8 years. Following their long sabbatical, Paul and Phil Hartnoll are back on fighting-fit form and ready to reclaim the spotlight. Both timeless and contemporary, Wonky puts a vividly modern spin on their signature blend of richly melodic, deeply emotive electronica.
According to The BBC, "The time away has obviously helped re-energise the brothers into crafting this triumphant grand return."
Confident, energised and eclectic, Wonky already sounds like the duo’s finest album to date. Gleaming, whooshing, shimmering tracks like "Straight Sun" and "Stringy Acid" instantly tap into the warm-blooded rush and restless bounce of classic Orbital. These are future festival-rocking anthems in the making, right up there with vintage live favourites "Chime" and "Belfast."
But there are nods to cutting-edge club culture on Wonky too – including a guest appearance by hotly tipped Birmingham grime MC Lady Leshurr on the album’s irresistibly vibrant electro-rap title track. The Hartnolls even give a radical post-dubstep makeover to their much-loved techno-rock classic "Satan," reworking it into a razor- backed beast of shuddering bass called "Beelzedub."
Pitchfork praises, “thank whatever god you wish that Wonky mostly finds Orbital deciding to do what they've always done best: gorgeous blends of house drive and techno precision, linking airy whoosh and stadium stomp, melodic hook and rhythmic push. These are dance tracks that hit you with the immediacy of pop singles."
Like all Orbital albums, Wonky defies narrow-minded caricatures of electronic music as cold and mechanical. Playful humour and warm humanity are woven into its fabric - from the heart-tugging harmonies and woozy vocal layers of "Never" and "Distractions," to the guest appearance on their first single by the highly acclaimed LA-based electronic musician Zola Jesus on the brooding, atmospheric epic "New France," which Fader Magazine calls "A reassuring return." These are machine-made symphonies to stir the soul and electrify the senses.
The Observer acclaims, “Of all the rave-era outfits that so appalled the establishment, Orbital were by far the most consolatory and melodic. They had plenty of time for prettiness and emotion, and the skills to tend evolving musical subplots - the kind of sophistication you might feasibly compare to the richness of classical music. Hearing the sweet strains of their opener, "One Big Moment" - it's hard to imagine Orbital ever being thought of as yobbish wreckers of civilisation. Indeed, in contrast to the big dance acts of today - the craven mechanics of Swedish House Mafia, the coldness of Skrillex, the workouts of Deadmau5 - they feel like zen masters, privileging airy contemplation over manipulation."