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The Blue Album

The Blue Album

There are some groups that I'm just sort of a sucker for because they remind me of times when I just started getting into a certain kind of music and even if they've created mediocre music since I first discovered them, my interest will nearly always be piqued when they put something else out. Orbital is one of those groups, and while many would consider their electronic music to be just more watered-down electronic dance music, I have to give them props for putting out faily consistent music (with the exception of one album) since their inception.

The Blue Album is supposedly the very last album from the Brothers Hartnoll as Orbital, and fortunately it finds them going out on a farely strong note. I wasn't expecting to hear anything as good as Snivilization or In Sides again at this point, but at least they seemed to have put a strong foot forward and have at least partially erased the memory of The Altogether (which wasn't stunningly horrible, but wasn't exactly a champ either).

The great thing about The Blue Album is that instead of sounding like the group is trying to break new ground for their last disc, they simply double-dipped back to some of the things they did best on earlier releases and created new songs that do similar things. "Transient" opens the disc with layers of panning pings and electronic gurgles as violins swell around it all. The track never takes off, but it doesn't have to in order to work. "Pants" follows with an old-school electro-vibe workout including retro drum samples and super juicy bass hits that bellow under trancey electronic arpeggios. "Tunnel Vision" is similarly old-school, banging more retro beats with growling basslines and rave-up builds.

In one ill combination, the group tries to pull off one last full vocal track and it simply doesn't fly with "Acid Pants." While it wobbles with some seriously dark acid throb, the whole thing is just way too cheesed-up and repetitive to fit alongside some of the more subtle and layered work on the album. Fortunately, the group offsets that with the great "You Lot" (again pulling movie samples and bending them to their will while building tension) and "Easy Serv" (a sleepy-time chime track that sounds a bit like it could have come off the Morr Music label). The group saves the best for last, though, collaborating with Lisa Gerrard on the nearly nine-minute "One Perfect Sunrise." On a surface level, it sounds like fairly standard trance fair, but bobs and weaves and bangs respectively, calling to mind one of their other classic epics "Halcyon + On + On." In 9 tracks and 52 minutes, The Blue Album is a fairly nice closer if this is indeed the last from the group. While it might not be a full exclamation point ending to their career, it's far better than a fall on the face.

Rating: 6.75