Orbital

The Altogether

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Getting farther away from both the electronica mainstream as well as its experimental underground with each release, the sixth full album by Orbital finds the Hartnoll brothers very tired indeed, recycling sounds and styles they'd pioneered ten years earlier. Sampling arch-metal heroes Tool and the frat rock staple "Surfin' Bird" (not even the original "Surfin' Bird") for a pair of aggro-thrash tracks doesn't exactly bode well for The Altogether, and even when the duo works in more familiar territory, it's far too familiar. "Funny Break (One Is Enough)" is a return to the majestic, trademarked Orbital sound of their debut, "Chime," but this isn't even the first time they've gone back to their staple. "Oi!" is another solid production, but incredibly it also borrows heavily from their repertoire, with the hazy female siren-calls from past Orbital classics like "Halcyon + On + On" and "The Girl With the Sun in Her Hair." And the Hartnolls' one concession to the currents of electronica circa 2001, a vocalist collaboration ("Illuminate" featuring David Gray), is a totally misguided crossover and one of the blandest tracks they've ever been associated with. Their cover of the Dr. Who theme may sound a little risqué to fans of the ancient sci-fi series (especially those most middle-aged and curmudgeonly), but the track is obvious and unintentionally hilarious. It's genuinely surprising to find a consistent act like Orbital slipping to such depths, but The Altogether is a poor album and by far a low point in Orbital's career. [A limited-edition double-disc release of The Altogether added 11 tracks of bonus material and remixes.]

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