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The Middle of Nowhere

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Album Review

Electronica routinely covers more ground, more quickly, than any style of music on the planet; the hottest new sound in January is old hat by March and downright foolish to even mention in June. Orbital, however, is the great constant in the world of techno. Every few years, the brothers Hartnoll manage to turn in excellent albums that occasionally reference the latest sound but rarely vary from the chord-heavy melodics of their debut single, "Chime." Though it took a bit longer to release, Middle of Nowhere is another typically excellent Orbital album. Experiments with breakbeats and other styles of music made interesting mixers of their previous two albums, Snivilisation and In Sides, and this fifth album includes nods to big beat-techno ("I Don't Know You People") and soundtrack composers. The latter is hardly a surprise, considering the Hartnolls' sideline gig as score composers (Event Horizon, The Saint). The opener, "Way Out," adds trumpet solos and a symphonic grandeur — reminiscent of John Barry's scores for the James Bond films — to the quintessential Orbital sound. Even considering the lack of real progression in sound, Middle of Nowhere reflects the pair once again making all the right moves and not slowing down a bit.


Formed: 1987 in Sevenoaks, Kent, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Orbital became one of the biggest names in techno during the mid-'90s by solving the irreconcilable differences previously inherent in the genre: to stay true to the dance underground and, at the same time, force entry into the rock arena, where an album functions as an artistic statement -- not a collection of singles -- and a band's prowess is demonstrated by the actual performance of live music. Though Phil and Paul Hartnoll first charted with a single, the 1990 British Top 20 hit "Chime," the...
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The Middle of Nowhere, Orbital
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