mon 15/04/2024

CD: Orbital - Monsters Exist | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Orbital - Monsters Exist

CD: Orbital - Monsters Exist

The first album of the third coming of the Hartnoll brothers hits the right spot

Orbital: standing up to the monsters

When he was asked about the first Orbital album since 2012’s Wonky, Paul Hartnoll said that he was torn between writing a really aggressive, Crass-type album and going back to the rave sensibilities of the early 1990s.

Monsters Exist may well have some of the former, especially in the atmospheric “The Raid”, but it’s still largely a disc of hands in the air, trancey techno. However, at times like this, a bit of coming together with big smiles is as good a way as any to stand up to those who would divide and impose their obnoxious ideas on us all.

Recent single “PHUK” is bouncy rave tune that harks back to the Hartnoll brothers’ early Club Dog days, while the magnificent “Vision OnE” is a blissed-out banger that also reaches back to the early 1990s with saucer-sized pupils. But Monsters Exist is no nostalgia trip. “Tiny Foldable Cities” brings in laidback, glitchy electronica and the spaced-out and off-kilter “The End Is Nigh” mashes up warped trip hop beats and techno grooves. And it’s all good stuff.

On previous releases, Orbital have never been scared to bring interesting musical collaborators on board. Monsters Exist, however, introduces a somewhat unlikely partner in the shape of Professor Brian Cox. Offering a scientific explanation of the human race’s insignificance in the great scheme of things to an atmospheric, ambient backing, “There Will Come a Time” suggests that there is a choice – between hate and ignorance and love and curiosity. Mind you, it’s an exposition that is unlikely to impress the religious among us, as no Higher Power gets any kind of a look-in.

Monsters Exist is a timely reminder that even relatively mainstream techno and rave culture was once idealistic and almost hippy-ish. Maybe Orbital can lead the way for it to be so again.

It's a timely reminder that even relatively mainstream techno and rave culture was once idealistic and almost hippy-ish


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