Orbital ‘Wonky’ Review + Official Video
Wonky, the first album in eight years from UK electro house pioneers Orbital, is both a reminder of why the duo ruled the early 90s dance scene and a fresh extension of the signature melodic big room tracks made famous on classic LPs including Orbital 2 and Snivilisation.
Incorporating the same auditory cosmic whoosh at the core of their best work, Wonky has a cohesively soft, floating quality that plays like the companion soundtrack to a ride through deep space. This shimmery techno house is best exemplified on ‘Stringy Acid,’ a simultaneously deep/light body mover assembled from foundational layers of gorgeous orchestral synth and overtones of sparkly digital pitter patter. The big, swirling dance track manages to evoke the joyful lightness of early nineties ambient techno without sounding dated, wimpy or trying.
Wonky also expands on Orbital’s classic sound with masterful touches of deep bass and dub. Aside from the plodding, bass heavy ‘Beelzedub’ (a non-sequiter hiccup in this otherwise excellent from start to finish longplayer), these nods to the current tastes of EDM at large rarely drop hard, instead maintaining the ever-rising synth wave lullaby sound that Orbital made its name on two decades ago.
The duo (brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll) also modernizes its work via vocals from Lady Leshurr and pop/goth it girl Zola Jesus, who provides a haunting siren call on ‘New France.’ Layered over a resounding synth alarm, the track is at once anthemic and darkly melodic, exemplifying that electronic music doesn’t have to be bass heavy in order to be moody. The urgently pretty ‘Distractions’ is another electronic dark cloud that rises with intensity and then surprises with intermittent moments of minimalist beat breakdowns.
While satisfying the tastes of the group’s longstanding devotees, Wonky also serves to introduce Orbital to a new generation of fans. Considering that Orbital never had to make another album to cement their name in the EDM hall of fame, Wonky is a solid addition to a legendary catalog.
Check out the new video for “Wonky” below: