Orbital – Work 1989-2002

Album Review by Mark Bayross

When Phil and Paul Hartnoll released the quietly elegant CHIME in 1989, naming themselves rather undramatically after the motorway that circumnavigates London a stone’s throw from their native Sevenoaks, few could have predicted that they were destined to become elder statesmen of dance music.

But 13 years, six albums, countless triumphant live performances (included a legendary set at Glastonbury ’94) and numerous film scores later, the brothers have released WORK, a compilation of key tracks in Orbital’s canon, coinciding with two additional EPs, REST and PLAY (clever, huh?).

The tracklisting for WORK is broadly chronological and charts the evolution of the band’s sound from CHIME, HALCYON and the hook-laden IMPACT through to FUNNY BREAK from last year’s THE ALTOGETHER album. Nonetheless, the David Gray-sung ILLUMINATE (from THE ALTOGETHER) and NOTHING LEFT (from penultimate album THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE) appear near the beginning, and early classics BELFAST and LUSH, products of their first two self-titled albums (“Green” and “Brown”), surface at the end, confusing the timeline somewhat.

Of course, Orbital fans will already own most of WORK, but there are bonuses in the form of the storming SATAN in its Kirk Hammett-enhanced form (as re-recorded for the SPAWN soundtrack), and FRENETIC, an update of their Golden Girls release KENETIC, which provides the obligatory exclusive track.

With the seminal work mentioned above on offer alongside the inspired likes of STYLE, ARE WE HERE? and the haunting THE BOX, there’s not much to fault this compilation. I would have liked a bit more of IN SIDES to have made it onto the album, but those of you who don’t already own it, should go out and buy it too.

Whether or not you already own most of Orbital’s back-catalogue, WORK makes for an engrossing journey and is a firm affirmation of the consistency and power of the Hartnolls’ music for more than a decade.

5 stars

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