Album: Orbital

Blue Album, ORBITAL
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Pulling together the various strains of house and electronica that feed into their sound, Orbital's final album sounds like a handy one-stop summation of their career. Not that there's any chronological strictness to it: the glistening electronic tones and spooky strings of "Transient" make for a sombre introduction to the album, bearing scant relation to the 303 rave fodder on which their reputation was established. That comes much later on, in "Acid Pants", which features Sparks' Russell Mael chanting: "When the love trance starts, then the fun starts." It doesn't go anywhere in particular, but then acid house rarely did, preferring to cycle endlessly around, like the motorway that furnished the Hartnoll brothers' band name. The space between and around these stylistic poles is filled with diverse examples of the electronicist's art: the Kraftwerkian "Tunnel Vision" is a branch line of "Trans-Europe Express"; "One Perfect Sunrise" is a lush trance-scape caressed by Lisa Gerrard's wordless vocal; "Bath Time" has the naive charm of a Raymond Scott or Perry & Kingsley synth-pop trifle; and "Easy Serv" is mall muzak, comforting but uninvolving. With Blue Album, there's a distinct sense of Orbital having come full circle.