It’s a party at the end of the world and the only ones that could possibly soundtrack our long, dystopian nightmare are legendary acid house purveyors, Orbital. Brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll have been crafting rave anthems since the late 1980s and post pandemic they found themselves in a renewed burst of creativity.
Earlier this year the brothers thirtieth anniversary offering, Thirtysomething, reintroduced Orbital to a worldwide fanbase and now they have emerged with their tenth studio album, Optical Delusion. The album draws from the fallout of the pandemic and in particular the feelings we all have moving forward and navigating this new world. Featuring guests such as Sleaford Mobs Jason Williamson, folk goth artists The Mediaeval Baebes and London singer/songwriter Anna B Savage, Optical Delusion is filled with wonderful collaborations that help emphasize the albums deep dive into the emotional instability of post pandemic life. That’s not to say the album is a bummer, it really isn’t. The Hartnoll brothers still know how to bring energy and excitement to whatever is our new normal.
Lead single “Dirty Rat” hits hard immediately. Harkening back to what the brothers refer to as “politicised anarcho-squatpunk”, it’s just as exciting as that description lets on. On the stellar opening track “Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song)” the Hartnoll brothers, joined by The Mediaeval Baebes, reconfigure the nursery rhyme “Ring O Roses” from its roots during the bubonic plague and re contextualize it through their loopy breakbeats and anthemic synths to make it ring true to today. Even though the Hartnolls have been doing this for over thirty years now, there is nothing on Optical Delusion that feels dated. The energy of the tracks remain high throughout and you do get the sense that hearing these songs live with hundreds of other people would be an absolutely cathartic experience.
While the world has shifted and changed over the last few years, it’s cool to see artists such as Orbital who have remained consistent in their creativity and in their intention to not just make fun and exciting music but music that actually says something. Their ability to comment on their perspective regarding the state of the world is unique in the electronic dance music world and one that is lacking. Instead of the recycled beats the many of their EDM peers have been spinning their wheels too, no pun intended, over the last few decades, Orbital sound energized, fresh and as original as when they started.
Pre-order Optical Delusion by Orbital HERE
Looking for something new to listen to?
Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.