Orbital
Wonky


4.0
excellent

Review

by Olivier De Clercq CONTRIBUTOR (40 Reviews)
April 5th, 2012 | 25 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wonky is not Orbital's best work, but it's still an incredibly fun party record, which also serves as the great comeback few expected from the Brits.

This is a big one guys: after a long nine-year wait, the dance pioneers of Orbital arise from the dead to bring forth new studio material, after a series of well-received reunion concerts. Wonky is the name of the game and the brothers Hartnoll describe the album as "curious, whimsical and full of emotion". Which is an accurate statement if you ask me, because although the album only contains nine tracks, every single one of them constantly transforms and mutates throughout their playing time to keep things fresh and interesting. What's also evident from the get-go is that the tracks here are shortened up, made more compact in comparison with their older work. Which gives off the feeling that Wonky is a functional record, with its primary goal consisting of raising the qualities of the live shows to new heights.

Nevertheless, the record can and does stand on its own. The sound applied here remains typical Orbital: it's crystal clear and makes great use of textures of the purest kind. It's made up of many eery and etherical soundscapes which are being steadily supported by the varied beats they know how to create so well. This results in a sound that's very futuristic, but not alien-like or bleak. On the other hand, Wonky isn't just a carbon copy of Orbital's revered 90s work, because the brothers have updated their productions with modern studio techniques. They also connect and respond to the current trends in the dance scene, but they twist and blend them into their own artistic visions. This does however result into one giant turd in the form of the title track, which starts promising and exciting, but totally falls apart when Lady Leshurr's horrific rap performance starts.

Luckily, the other songs are as good as you can expect from the legendary British dance producers. Firstly, on 'New France', they've collaborated with another artist, namely Zola Jezus, whose nonsensical but angel-like and powerful vocals intertwine splendidly with the anthemic trance on the background. Elsewhere, 'Straight Sun' and 'Never' are recognized as steady, but at the same time chilled-out party tracks. These were already released as appetizers early on, but the songs stay equally as strong in the context of the whole record. They're also a good indication on what to expect from Wonky as a whole.

But they're not the highlights. That honour is reserved for 'Distractions', which - after a joyful and euphoric start of the album - glides into a darker IDM territory, where the schizophrenic and hesitant rhythms are being capsulated in the deceitfully calm melody, which gradually mutates into a frantic electro ride. It's telling that the highlight is also the longest track here, by the way. Another surprise is 'Beelzedub', because the idea of "Orbital does dubstep" isn't really all that attractive on paper. But somehow it works. The Hartnolls play around with the oldschool wobble sound of Digital Mystikz and inject it with a short-circuited power current, thus creating a timewarp to the heydays of the British rave scene. If only The Prodigy's recent work were this exciting.

Let's be clear: Wonky isn't Orbital's best album (although they mentioned that it would be on their Twitter page), but it's still a darn good comeback album. The record may lack the innovation of their 90's masterpieces, but the brothers have at least found their inventiveness back. As a result, Wonky is just an incredible fun party record. And at the moment, that's really all I'm asking for.



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user ratings (37)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Deviant STAFF (2.5)
In forgetting how to age gracefully, Orbital run the risk of tarnishing their reputation even furthe...


Comments:Add a Comment 
clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Counterpoint.

This is also a loose translation of my Dutch review of the record which can be viewed here:
http://www.motherlovemusic.be/albums/album-recensie/orbital-wonky/

Digging: Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2012


31222 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Eight year wait

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm counting 2004 as well ;)

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2012


31222 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

But they put an album out that year......

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2012


31222 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

*beezledub btw

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, in June. So actually it's an 8.5 year wait

Edit: fixed. Just noticed it's wrong in the tracklist as well

TheMushuPork
April 5th 2012


462 Comments


^ This nigga.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I enjoyed the review. Have a mf pos.

Not the best timing for a review though, it has to be said. :P

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks : )

And it's a counterpoint, in that regard the timing is perfect imo. Don't really know what you're getting at?

TheMushuPork
April 5th 2012


462 Comments


It's excellent timing, being right next to Deviant's just means that more traffic will come through this review, because it's a different opinion.

That is.... Until another review gets posted.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2012


3421 Comments


Good review. Have a pos. Straight Sun and Never are really cool.

Digging: Electric Wizard - Time to Die

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gracias! Yeah, when I first heard those, I thought this was going to be my AOTY. Too bad some of the other tracks hit a bit too much bumps.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2012


3421 Comments


Yeah, I agree with you, but there are a few here that are really good though. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to be the AOTY.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The live show is going to be fantastic, though. No doubts about it

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2012


3421 Comments


I missed them two years ago, I think, at a festival here in Romania and so far they haven't been confirmed on any of the festivals' lineups. It'll be cool if any of the organizers think about bringing them again.
Two years ago, they've been on the same bill with Moby and it was amazing (still, there were some metal acts before that really cut the crowd in two from what I've heard). I chose to go at a different festival because there were some acts that I was more into at that time.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well they're touring as we speak (next week, I'll go see them here in Belgium), so chances are big that they'll be doing festival gigs this summer as well. Fingers crossed ;)

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2012


3421 Comments


I checked the tour itinerary on their website and so far they aren't coming anywhere near, but yeah there is still time :D

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Glad you dig it. This needs more love around here honestly.

Tyrael
April 5th 2012


20885 Comments


ew

nice review

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Have you heard their 90s albums, Ty?



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