Veterans of the first wave of rave, Phil and Paul Hartnoll together as Orbital, could just chill and occasionally reunite to play at big festivals for a quick buck. They did release the now classic The Blue Album nearly a decade ago after all, these guys could just bask in the success of that all the way to retirement. But perhaps fearing irrelevance that has befell their ‘90s dance titan peers, the brothers decided to record a new album.
In an alternate universe, this would have been their turn to try to hop onto the latest dance bandwagon only to find themselves in the ignoble position of being out of touch. Thankfully Wonky, their ninth album, finds the brothers sticking to a formula that is not far removed from their beginnings; poppy dance numbers. Featuring the techno meticulousness over house energy they were famous for, the tracks on Wonky balances the fine line of being throwbacks while still following present day’s permutations of dance music.
‘New France’ would have worked just as well back in the heydays of Orbital’s glory in the ‘90s, the inclusion of gothic songstress Zola Jesus’ vocals serve as a reminder that this is still modern day rave music. Much of the album is as decently delivered saved for ‘Beezledub’, a comically extravagant attempt at brostep, which is already an exaggeration of dubstep to begin with.
Ignoring that, Orbital’s Wonky is still one of the few comebacks from the old boys of ‘90s rave that doesn’t embarrass. The trick is, apparently, to stay within the music timewarp you got stuck in.
LISTEN TO: ‘New France’ ‘Distractions’ ‘Stringy Acid’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: The Orb, Underworld, The Future Sound of London