Crate Digging is a recurring feature in which we take a deep dive into a genre and turn up several albums all music fans should know about. In this edition, electronic legends Orbital share their picks.
Phil and Paul Hartnoll feel that their new album as Orbital, Optical Delusion, is “all killer, no filler.”
“There’s normally a track on an album where we go ‘Oh, not sure about that one,'” Phil Hartnoll tells Consequence, “… But on this one, everyone’s a winner.”
The two brothers, who have been producing and releasing music now across four decades, are excited to be back in the mix once again. Throughout the years, their Orbital project has withstood some significant eras of electronic music, from the breakbeat romps of England’s bustling house scene in the ’90s and 2000s, to the widescreen fantasia of EDM in the 2010s. Now, Orbital’s Optical Delusion (out now) finds them taking cues from both old and new as they formulate an expansive and freeing dance concoction.
For Optical Delusion, they’ve collaborated with some artists that stray far from Orbital’s lane — “Dirty Rat” features UK punks Sleaford Mods for a frenetic and downright silly electro explosion, and opener “Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song)” includes contributions from British ensemble Mediæval Bæbes as they reimagine the children’s rhyme “Ring Around the Rosie” for a new, post-COVID world.
But the Hartnoll brothers aren’t just outstanding producers and songwriters — they’re true connoisseurs of the electronic genre, and have been actively inspired by the genre’s pioneers and forerunners for the last 40 years. In addition to older, influential dance records like Jean-Michel Jarre’s Zoolook and Kraftwerk’s Computer World, they’ve also selected essential records from a newer era, like Jon Hopkins’ stunning 2018 LP, Singularity.
Read on for Orbital’s list of the 10 electronic albums that everyone should own, and stream the duo’s new album Optical Delusion below.