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Orbital



Notable for their validation of modern electronic dance music's viability as a live art form, Orbital is the most successful techno act in the history of the genre. Brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll founded the group after growing up in Kent, England listening to second wave punk, early '80s warped electro, and nascent hip hop. Adopting their moniker from the nickname for London's circular motor(high)way central to the rave scene, the brothers Hartnoll began recording together in the late '80s and sent "Chime" to pirate radio DJ Jazzy M to be featured on his house mix show. Jazzy agreed to release 1000 copies of the single on his Oh-Zone label. When they immediately sold out, London/FFRR Records picked up on the track and Orbital found themselves with a top 20 hit and a performance slot on Top of the Pops.

Orbital's '91 untitled debut LP (known popularly as The Green Album) appeared at a time when dance acts commonly released only 12-inch singles. The album was as critically praised as Orbital's '93 follow-up, The Brown Album. Their dynamic, improvisatory multimedia live shows distanced them still further from the average one-hook bedroom techno jockeys. A Peel Session appeared the following year before Orbital released their third LP, Snivilisation, in '94. That release saw them take another giant leap forward, embracing even more diverse musical ideas (with some help from noted electro vocalist Allison Goldfrapp) and espousing left-wing political notions, as evidenced by the album's voiced opposition to the anti-rave Criminal Justice Bill. The months following found Orbital remixing the likes of Madonna and touring extensively, hitting the stage at Woodstock '94 and bringing down the house at the Glastonbury Festival.

In '96, the brothers issued a hubristic, orchestral single, "The Box," followed soon after by their fourth LP, In Sides. The following year, the duo applied their cinematic technique to the theme from TV's The Saint for the film adaptation starring Val Kilmer, hitting number three on U.K. charts. Gigs at the U.K.'s Tribal Gathering and the U.S.'s Lollapalooza came soon after. '99's Middle of Nowhere LP continued the Hartnoll brothers' unerring commitment to innovative techno excellence.

'01's The Altogether sees the boys collaborate with some unlikely bands, including U.S. heavy metal group Tool, rockabilly outfits The Cramps and the Bananamen, anarchist punk rocker Steve Ignorant (Crass), and Ian Dury, as well as vocalists and friends Naomi Bedford and David Gray. While tracks such as "Funny Break (One Is Enough)," "Pay Per View", and "Oi!" echo their previous work, many tracks on The Altogether see Orbital experimenting with post-drum and bass nu-breaks ("Last Thing"), spoofy covers ("Doctor Who"), and tongue-in-cheek techno ("Tension").