Orbital's newest album, released on April 30, 2001 in the UK on FFrr/London Records. It scheduled to be released in the United States in early September. Like Middle of Nowhere, it's produced by Mickey Mann.
  1. Tension
  2. Funny Break (One Is Enough)
  3. oi!
  4. Pay Per View
  5. Tootled
  6. Last Thing
  7. Doctor ?
  8. Shadows
  9. Waving Not Drowning
  10. Illuminate
  11. Meltdown

It's an okay little album, much more suitable for the car than the dancefloor. Minimalistic, lighthearted, retro-futuristic, and chock full of samples, this should give back a little of the credibility the big O has been shedding since the release of 1999's beat-heavy Middle of Nowhere. However, the long-term Orbital fan is likely to be disappointed with the lack of cohesion, as well as the emotional sterility of many of the tracks. It's album-oriented (though seemingly without concept), meaning that all of the tunes sound better in context than they do individually. Sonically, it weaves Q-Burns type grooves with video game sounds and a little bit of μziq-ian messed-up jazz. Well, on some tracks. It's probably their most diverse album since Snivilisation. You get "Voodoo Ray"-like tracks ("oi!") and David Gray collaborations ("Illuminate") on the same LP.

Then... "Meltdown" singes everything in a haunting, blistering ten minute burst of drums, synths, and evil! Yes! This may be Orbital's best closer ever. But overall, one might be inclined to take the skeletal album cover seriously – the Brothers Hartnoll have never sounded so dead.

Album: The Altogether
Artist: Orbital
Label: FFRR
Year: 2001
Rating: 4/5
Summary: Just plain fun.

Orbital were one of those groups which started off churning out mediocre albums with one noteworthy, epic track each (Belfast; Halcyon + On + On; Are We Here?), then slowly got better with practice before finally splitting up.

Towards the end of their output, they released what were arguably their two best albums, The Middle of Nowhere and The Altogether. Out of the two, The Middle of Nowhere is probably the best in that it's a cohesive whole and generally sounds more professional, but The Altogether is actually more fun. With the exception of only two tracks, the skippable Pay Per View and Shadows, every cut is a catchy, upbeat number that you can dance to and that, above all, is just plain fun.

As soon as the opening track's energy fuelled bass kicks in, I can't help but picture the Hartnoll brothers wearing their head-mounted torches while bopping around the stage to the sound of their playful rhythms. Almost the whole album captures this feeling, making it one of the most enjoyable releases in my collection.

The production is clean and the mixes are loud, but while that's a bonus, it doesn't really matter. At the end of the day, this album makes you want to dance around regardless of how silly you might look. If you want upbeat music that you'll actually enjoy without having to analyze it to death, then this album is a good one to go for.

For good measure, the Hartnoll brothers have also finally included their remix of the Dr. Who theme tune, which was a much-loved part of their live sets for some time. It fits in well with the rest of the album, continuing the theme of your brain thinking "I really shouldn't be listening to such silly nonsense" while your body's jumping around and enjoying it.

This is how I want to remember Orbital: their silly, untamed best.

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