Review Summary: Danceable enough that you won’t get weird looks from your friends but varied and interesting enough to keep you listening for a long, long time.
As an electronic fan, I always seem to dislike when people say I listen to techno. I mean ok, it’s just a term, but to me when I hear that word I think of the same monotous driving house beat with a stupidly simple melody. Otherwise known as the *** my roommate decides to blast across our dorms. Maybe that’s why I tended to shy away from electronic music. I’m not saying I hate trance or dance music but sometimes I’m looking for a little more substance than that stuff. I’ve recently found many artists that get the job done. One of these groups is Orbital. Orbital, along with many other well known electronica acts formed in Europe during the early nineties UK rave scene. “In Sides” is often regarded as one of their strongest efforts.
On “In Sides” Orbital successfully mixes dance beats with strange and eerie synth to create a unique experience. If critics were describing the music of Aphex Twin as something you would hear at a tity bar on Mars, I think it would be fair to describe this album as something you would hear on the streets of downtown Mars. The music comes off as spacey, creepy, but energetic as well. Keep in mind that this album isn’t completely ambient. This isn’t the droning music to fall asleep to. While it has elements of ambient, it also contains many dance and industrial beats and it’s this that will keep your head bobbing. Structurally, the songs are actually closer to the type of thing that Tangerine Dream might do. They are long compositions that can go up to thirteen plus minutes. These lengths may seem intimidating at first but with time you will come to enjoy it as any other long album.
All the songs here truly progress. The album starts with a heart beat and then eventually drops the beat. It doesn’t stop there though. It just keeps growing expanding. Don’t get used to the cheery mood of “The Girl with the Sun in Her Head” though. The weather quickly changes. And it doesn’t return for the remainder of the album. “P.E.T.R.O.L” raises the tension while creepy string arrangements of “The Box” put the listener in a complete state of paranoia. The true highlights of the album though come on the next two tracks. “Dwr Budr” flies you over grassy hills as the somber voices and trickling synth rain overhead, while “Adnan’s” is probably the best track on the album. It uses a constant bass and some cool industrial effects to create a feeling of complete desolation. All of it is really good stuff.
There are two different bonus discs to accompany the main album. Neither is as strong as the main disc. The one with “Satan” is the worse of the two. The track “Satan (Industrial Version) is a nicely done industrial track but a little too straightforward. It also feels bit out of place on the album. The live version isn’t much different and is completely unnecessary. I can’t understand why they would put it right after the first version. It’s probably best just to skip these one of the two. The next two tracks are more of what we heard on the first disc. The album closes on an interesting note with the dreamy “Halcyon”. You may have heard this in “Mean Girls” or I actually remember if from the movie “Mortal Kombat”. While I could do without the crowd screaming, this song just screams electronic beauty. The song uses a sample of Kirsty Hawkshaw played backwards. It works. I know, first the Eurythmics, now this. We should play more music backwards. (Just no Stairway to Heaven please). I actaully prefer this version to the original version too. However at 5:51 they have to come in and nearly ruin it with a annoying sample of “You Give Love a Bad Name” Ughh… The other bonus disc is more like what you get on the main disc except that it features some actual vocal work. The other disc actually has a longer version of “The Box” A much
longer version at nearly 28 minutes. It’s great but I would actually say “Halcyon” takes the cake as the better closer. So this album might take a while to digest because it’s long and full of bleeps and what not. Once it has sunk in though, this album is a great album to listen to.