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Electronic - Released January 1, 2009 | London Music Stream

One of the first dance acts that fully embraced the concept of the traditional studio album, head-mounted torch-wearing brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll, aka Orbital, were instrumental in the success of the early-'90s rave scene thanks to their intelligent blend of ambient techno, industrial electro, and inventive sampling. Five years after announcing their split, the Hartnolls took a break from their various solo projects to re-form in time for a headlining slot at the Big Chill Festival and the release of 20, their third greatest-hits collection following Work 1989-2002 and 2005's Halcyon. Timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of their debut single, "Chime," the two-disc, 20-track collection is a much more extensive and lengthy retrospective than its predecessors, clocking in at a remarkably generous nearly three-hour running time thanks to several ten-plus-minute pulsating groundbreaking classics. All of their seven LPs are covered, from 1991's self-titled debut to 2004's swan song Blue Album, with both live performances and remixes from the likes of Hervé and Tom Middleton thrown into the mix alongside original single and radio edits such as the ethereal progressive trance of final hit "One Perfect Sunrise," the skittering "Are We Here," which features an early appearance from Alison Goldfrapp, and the mystical "Funny Break (One Is Enough)," which proves that Orbital are capable of creating infectious melodies in addition to their trademark knob-twiddling. Predating the "cut-and-paste" formula of the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy by a good couple of years, there's unsurprisingly a veritable treasure trove of intriguing and completely random samples waiting to be discovered throughout the compilation. There are snatches of Afrika Bambaataa's "Timezone" and Butthole Surfers' "Sweat Loaf" on their joint biggest hit, "Satan," Opus III's "It's a Fine Day" on their huge club anthem "Halcyon," Scott Walker's rendition of Jacques Brel's "Next" on the tribal acid house of "The Naked and the Dead," and even '80s cheesy pop duo Dollar on the stylophone-led "Style," all of which create the feel of a particularly schizophrenic but ultimately enjoyable iPod playlist. While most of their 14 U.K. Top 40 singles are included, with such an extensive back catalog there are bound to be a few notable omissions. For some reason, their impressive body of film music, which has seen them score soundtracks for Event Horizon and Octane and contribute tracks to The Beach and The Saint, the latter of which provided their joint biggest hit, is completely ignored. And for a band with such an esteemed live reputation, it's just as puzzling that there are only two such performances, none of which showcase their renowned improvisational skills, while their legendary 1994 slot at Glastonbury may have spawned its own recent album, but at least one track from its set wouldn't have gone amiss. However, 20 is undoubtedly the most comprehensive Orbital collection to date, and although its monster running time might deter some casual fans, it's a valiant attempt at balancing their more familiar and immediate hit singles with their more experimental and challenging epics. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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20

Electronic - Released January 1, 2009 | London Music Stream

One of the first dance acts that fully embraced the concept of the traditional studio album, head-mounted torch-wearing brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll, aka Orbital, were instrumental in the success of the early-'90s rave scene thanks to their intelligent blend of ambient techno, industrial electro, and inventive sampling. Five years after announcing their split, the Hartnolls took a break from their various solo projects to re-form in time for a headlining slot at the Big Chill Festival and the release of 20, their third greatest-hits collection following Work 1989-2002 and 2005's Halcyon. Timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of their debut single, "Chime," the two-disc, 20-track collection is a much more extensive and lengthy retrospective than its predecessors, clocking in at a remarkably generous nearly three-hour running time thanks to several ten-plus-minute pulsating groundbreaking classics. All of their seven LPs are covered, from 1991's self-titled debut to 2004's swan song Blue Album, with both live performances and remixes from the likes of Hervé and Tom Middleton thrown into the mix alongside original single and radio edits such as the ethereal progressive trance of final hit "One Perfect Sunrise," the skittering "Are We Here," which features an early appearance from Alison Goldfrapp, and the mystical "Funny Break (One Is Enough)," which proves that Orbital are capable of creating infectious melodies in addition to their trademark knob-twiddling. Predating the "cut-and-paste" formula of the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy by a good couple of years, there's unsurprisingly a veritable treasure trove of intriguing and completely random samples waiting to be discovered throughout the compilation. There are snatches of Afrika Bambaataa's "Timezone" and Butthole Surfers' "Sweat Loaf" on their joint biggest hit, "Satan," Opus III's "It's a Fine Day" on their huge club anthem "Halcyon," Scott Walker's rendition of Jacques Brel's "Next" on the tribal acid house of "The Naked and the Dead," and even '80s cheesy pop duo Dollar on the stylophone-led "Style," all of which create the feel of a particularly schizophrenic but ultimately enjoyable iPod playlist. While most of their 14 U.K. Top 40 singles are included, with such an extensive back catalog there are bound to be a few notable omissions. For some reason, their impressive body of film music, which has seen them score soundtracks for Event Horizon and Octane and contribute tracks to The Beach and The Saint, the latter of which provided their joint biggest hit, is completely ignored. And for a band with such an esteemed live reputation, it's just as puzzling that there are only two such performances, none of which showcase their renowned improvisational skills, while their legendary 1994 slot at Glastonbury may have spawned its own recent album, but at least one track from its set wouldn't have gone amiss. However, 20 is undoubtedly the most comprehensive Orbital collection to date, and although its monster running time might deter some casual fans, it's a valiant attempt at balancing their more familiar and immediate hit singles with their more experimental and challenging epics. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Dance - Released May 25, 2009 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released September 14, 2018 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released January 1, 1996 | London Music Stream

In Sides isn't Orbital's best album, or their most accomplished, but it is the most definitive. It pulses with the energy of the debut, the lush flow of the second, and the conceptual theme of Snivilisation. The focus this time, though, is ecology. "The Girl With the Sun in Her Head" was recorded on a Greenpeace bus using only solar power, and "Dwr Budr" (Welsh for "dirty water") also criticizes the misuse of natural resources. Phil and Paul's respect for the jungle/drum'n'bass movement showed in the moderate breakbeat rhythms on several tracks. [One of the American releases of In Sides added a bonus disc including "The Saint" single.] © John Bush /TiVo
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Electronic - Released January 1, 1993 | London Music Stream

Opening with a looped Star Trek sample, Orbital's second album progresses through eight tracks of warm, unrepetitive techno in what sounds more like a DJ mix album than an LP, with no bows to mainstream sensibilities. Here, the duo's acknowledged inspiration from Kraftwerk, present before but always in the background, came to the fore. The brilliant manner in which the Hartnolls weave several synth lines, samples, sung vocals, and percussion -- mathematically precise but still beautifully orchestrated -- updated Kraftwerk's mastery of minimalist electronic music. One of the highlights of the '90s techno movement, the "brown" album is still Orbital's most exciting work. © John Bush /TiVo
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Electronic - Released January 1, 1993 | London Music Stream

The U.S. version of Orbital's debut album serves as a good primer to the group's early history, including standard versions of the early singles "Chime," "Omen," "Satan," and "Midnight," in addition to two B-sides which showed Phil and Paul's first stab at varying their Kraftwerk-inspired sound. "Belfast" (from the "Satan" single) is a warm, mid-tempo synth track inspired by Depeche Mode; "Choice," at the other extreme, is an aggro-house piece with vocal samples (e.g., "Wake Up!") that recall socially conscious punks like Crass. © John Bush /TiVo
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Electronic - Released January 1, 1999 | London Music Stream

Electronica routinely covers more ground, more quickly, than any style of music on the planet; the hottest new sound in January is old hat by March and downright foolish to even mention in June. Orbital, however, is the great constant in the world of techno. Every few years, the brothers Hartnoll manage to turn in excellent albums that occasionally reference the latest sound but rarely vary from the chord-heavy melodics of their debut single, "Chime." Though it took a bit longer to release, Middle of Nowhere is another typically excellent Orbital album. Experiments with breakbeats and other styles of music made interesting mixers of their previous two albums, Snivilisation and In Sides, and this fifth album includes nods to big beat-techno ("I Don't Know You People") and soundtrack composers. The latter is hardly a surprise, considering the Hartnolls' sideline gig as score composers (Event Horizon, The Saint). The opener, "Way Out," adds trumpet solos and a symphonic grandeur -- reminiscent of John Barry's scores for the James Bond films -- to the quintessential Orbital sound. Even considering the lack of real progression in sound, Middle of Nowhere reflects the pair once again making all the right moves and not slowing down a bit. © John Bush /TiVo
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Electronic - Released January 1, 1994 | London Music Stream

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Electronic - Released January 1, 1994 | London Music Stream

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Electronic - Released January 1, 2001 | London Music Stream

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Electronic - Released September 14, 2018 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released September 2, 2012 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released June 21, 2004 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released February 9, 2012 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released January 1, 1990 | London Music Stream

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Electronic - Released May 21, 2012 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released June 20, 2010 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released August 11, 2017 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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Electronic - Released May 11, 2018 | ACP Recordings Ltd

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