Leftfield versus Orbital.........FIGHT!!!!!

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If you don't understand the heading then I can't help you anymore.

Ronan, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Leftfield have the "we only made 2 albums in a long time and BOTH were very acclaimed" going on.

Orbital have the "we're crazy soundscaping crazymen who have stood the test of time" thing going on.

Leftfields new album (whenever) it comes better be better than Orbitals last album "The Altogether" which was disappointing to me.

Anyway fight.

Ronan, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

leftfield have the better album taken as a whole. orbital have better material in quality and quantity. there. yes altogether was v :-(

i'd prefer leftfield v underworld FITE

Alan Trewartha, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Leftfield = overrated, overproduced bollocks. Orbital in easy win.

Omar, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yes I thought about that but I thought I could think of someone else for underworld to fight. I can't though so

UNDERWORLD VERSUS LEFTFIELD VERSUS ORBITAL..................

FIGHT

Ronan, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yes! it worked.

Ronan, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Orbital is so much better than Leftfield it isn't even funny. Even an album that ends up a disappointment is better. (I recently got _Leftism_ and WAS NOT IMPRESSED.)

Underworld is a harder group to get a handle on. Their first and third albums are fantastic, but the second is the textbook definition of "self-indulgent garbage". Also, everyone goes gaga over a deeply inferior mix of "Born Slippy". Still _Beacoup Fish_ was much better than _The Altogether_, approaching _In Sides_ or _Snivilization_ quality (if it doesn't reach it; I'm still torn). I have to go with Orbital because I think the variance of the quality of their work is less, but Underworld is definitely on the rise. (Actually, if they're officially kaput, Underworld would be my vote for the "timely break-up" thread.)

Dan Perry, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Leftfield have the "we only made 2 albums in a long time and BOTH were very acclaimed" going on
Not by me, they weren't!

Orbital by a KO, also sending one-trick ponies U/world out the ring faster than they stumbled into it.
(apologies for boxing metaphor - too much Tyson on TV today)

Jeff W, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Leftism or Rhythm and Stealth are better than the Altogether. Way way better. Underworld get bonus points for "Everything, Everything".

I can't decide either, I think perhaps I need to think further. Also I think I have a tendency to overrate Leftfield. But I think if we are comparing albums "Insides" is the best album any of the three have produced.

If we're comparing careers then I'm not too sure, I never listened to Snivilisation enough.

Ronan, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Orbital crush Leftfield. I've listened to Leftfield's debut, "Leftism," recently and the synths are already sounding a bit dated. Some of the songs are just wack ... like the first or second song, for instance. It's the once that begins with the hesistant sort of keyboard that gets louder and louder .. a friend pointed out once that it sounded just like the tentative, wimpy little keys in the Macarena and I've never been able to hear anything but that since. There are still a couple of really good songs on the album .. "Song of Life, "Original" and "Open Up," with guest vox from John Lydon shouting "Burn Hollywood burn, take down tinseltown!" .... but as a whole there's alot of weak stuff as well.

Whereas Orbital are just excellent. Their first two/three albums may sound just the tiniest bit obsolete in terms of sonics, but overall they have the kind of elegant structure and perfect celestial grooves that will make them listenable for years to come. Then there's "Snivilisation," which is still so lovely to listen to, and "In Sides," one of the best electronic albums of all time in my humble opinion (especially when paired with the original 2nd disc, which has the 28-minute version of "The Box") .... they've got all that going for them, even if "The Middle of Nowhere" and "The Altogether" were lackluster.

Dare, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

chime!

jk, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I've never been able to really dig into Leftfield, so they're straight out of there, although "Original" is a fantastic song. Orbital and Underworld is a little harder to decide, but currently I'd have to say Underworld. I've hated what I've heard of The Altogether, and Middle of Nowhere didn't quite reach the heights of Brown and Snivisilation, so they're on the decline. Underworld on the other hand, have two great albums and one mediocre one (same thing Dan already said), but they seem to be on the rise.

Vinnie, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Orbital is better than Underworld is better than Leftfield. It's not even close between any of these. I don't think Leftfield has a single truly great song, while Underworld have two ("Born Slippy", "Cowgirl") and Orbital has at least four ("Chime", "Lush", "Halcyon", "The Box").

Ian, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Underworld have two great albums (Dubnobass & Everything, Everything) and two rubbish ones. Leftfield have no great albums but some great singles. Orbital are the bite-your-legs heavyweight champs. Three classic albums (Brown, Blue, White) and the best ever live act consisting of two blokes with synths and Davy lamps. Now, a superheavyweight clash vs the Chems?

Mike Ratford, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

This is dance music, why does everyone keep talking about albums?

Ian, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Well start a singles thread then.

Also wasn't Leftism "THE ALBUM THAT BROUGHT DANCE OUT OF THE CLUBS AND INTO THE LIVING ROOMS"?

I was young when it was released but that smacks of bullshit to me. is it?

Ronan, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ian, you're probably right about dance albums but I'm far too old to buy singles nowadays, but when I did The Box was one of the greats - best use of a harpsichord in pop (second best, of course, being Bills Bills Bills).

Mike Ratford, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

You know, the only time I ever really enjoyed Leftfield was when my little brother was playing this baseball video game and it played "Open Up" over the title credits. Except it was this edited version with the "play ball!" samples left in and the boring John Lydon rant cut out, so it was good.

Ian, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Leftism > Dubnobass > The Brown One > Second Toughest > The Altogether > Second Toughest > Rhythm and Stealth > Middle Of Nowhere > Beaucoup Fish

Not Heard Insides. Didn't like Sniv. or the Green One.

I am alone in this of course, but I really like the Altogether. After MOW the last thing I wanted was an album with 10 minute 'epics' again. The shorter stuff covers a lot of ground, not all well executed, and some badly mixed IMHO, but a good effort. The Dr. Who theme is fantastic - (yeah, yeah I KNOW it sounded better at Glastonbury or wherever). I'll be back on why Leftism beats all, but it's only ten minutes until Chelsea v Spurs and I have to *get ready*.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Leftism > Dubnobass > The Brown One > Second Toughest > The Altogether > Second Toughest > Rhythm and Stealth > Middle Of Nowhere > Beaucoup Fish

SHEER INSANITY. This would be much more sensible:

In Sides > Brown = Snivilization = Beaucoup Fish > dubnobass... > Middle Of Nowhere > Green = The Altogether > Second Toughest > Rhythm and Stealth

This ranking should take into account that I like every album listed up through _The Altogether_.

Dan Perry, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

ARGH. Substitute _Leftism_ for _Rhythm And Stealth_. I haven't heard that one yet.

Dan Perry, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

But the first three songs from Middle of Nowhere are just so right that you can't listen to the rest of the album - A Great Orbital Moment can be found from 4.56 on track 3.

Incidentally, Way Out West seem to have quietly released two great albums and no one's noticed. Why? (Search: The Gift, Domination, UB Devoid, Intensify)

Mike Ratford, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Dr C have you hear the mix of Orbital's style which I think samples Dollar, came free on a Select CD. way better than the 'proper' version.

As for Leftism > Dubnobass > The Brown One > Second Toughest > The Altogether > Second Toughest > Rhythm and Stealth > Middle Of Nowhere > Beaucoup Fish Well have to say none of them are truly great albums (Insides and possibly Snivilsation excepted), most suffering from a lack of editing. Of the Underworld trio I'd shift Beaucoup Fish to the top if only for Jumbo. As for Leftism , fine album but dare I say it, a little anonymous, only really kicking off with the guest vocalists ditto for Rythma and Stealth.

Billy Dods, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Once again too much discussion as I am mired elsewhere. Growl. Orbital, thanks. It's all about how the live version of "Chime" on the Satan Live single starts.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Orbital = all good. Crush Leftfield....can't stand on the shoulders of mid-90s Leftism forever while the Hartnoll brothers keep releasing albums. And yeah, Way Out West is worth checking out.

patrick, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I am liking the Way Out West clips... thanks for the recommend Mike and Patrick!

Vinnie, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

you are liking WOW? cool. man, Domination is one of my favorite tracks......if I ever heard that at a club, I'd dance around so frantically I'd inadvertently kill someone.

patrick, Wednesday, 23 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Some disparate thoughts:

If Mike Ratford is thinking of the moment I think he's talking about, then he is *so* right (in my opinion Middle Of Nowhere is a much better take on "return to the clubs" than < i>The Altogether). Another point appears about two-thirds of the way through "Nothing Left 2", with one of the most heavenly build-ups of any I can think of.

Leftfield's first album is overrated elsewhere but underrated here. I most like the tracks that sort of sound out of character for them - "Inspection (Check One)", "Original", "Open Up", the quasi-jungle track (something 3000).

Orbital's jungle track ("Are We Here?") is better than Leftfield's or Underworld's ("Pearl's Girl") but that's because "Are We Here?" is one of the best things ever. Ever. As a whole Snivilisation is really underrated in that no-one talks about it compared to the albums on either side. But any album that has "Forever", "Sad But True", "Crash & Carry", "Are We Here?" and "Attached" is a work of godlike genius in my books. Another interesting thing about Orbital: one of the few artists whose tracks are almost always better the longer they are.

Second Toughest... isn't as bad as Dan paints it - yeah, it's much less interesting than the first or third albums, but the first two tracks at least are excellent, especially the second one (I like the way Underworld occasionally veer from motorik-as-hell techno to an almost blueslike shuffle quite easily).

Tim, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Billy - the album version samples Dollar's 'Oh L'Amour' too. (I just checked). I remember the 'Select' version, but don't have t any more.

Dr. C, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Well... I've never heard Leftfield or Underworld, but Orbital amaze me. Sometimes their music feels almost *too* perfect, absurdly well-arranged and layered, and superhumanly, architecturally breathtaking. Granted, this is coming from my knowledge of only the Brown album, In-Sides, and Snivilisation. But I like them all a ton, and I'm fascinated by how different they are from one another.

Clarke B., Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Wow, I just listened to "Are We Here?" (yay for ILM making me pull out neglected albums), and it's... exhausting--in a good way. It feels like it could be an entire album in and of itself (which, really, is how a great tune should feel--like you don't even need any more).

Clarke B., Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

There's a bit on Chime that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck every time I hear it, absolutely wonderful.

chris, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

this fred is about six years out of date. might as well do blur versus osis fite eh?

boring old farts. leftfield one half decent record with john lidon and guiness ad tune an the rest u never listen 2. b honist. orbital shit since insides. 40 yr old farts lisen to carington cogan on radio 2 not in tune with anything. boring boring.

the prodigy piss all over all that lot. an basement jax piss over prodigy unless latter get arse out of bed and record new shit.

chemical bros new record also shit. tel us somefin new.

XStatic Peace, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Re "Are We Here" again: interesting that it was the first *and* probably the most succesful techno appropriation of jungle. I'd feel like commending the brothers simply for being so on the eightball in '94, but on top of that it seems like one of the few outsider-jungle tracks that a) captured the actual spirit of jungle, and b) did something really interesting with it.

Tim, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

what the heck's going on here ?

2nd toughest in the infants is an a-mazing record! and people *do* talk about how good 'snivilisation' is. underworld are still ace, orbital have gone MOR. can't wait for underworld to return with or without emmerson.

piscesboy, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Brown Album: A sort ot turning point in the 1990's as it (along with Selected Ambient Works) almost singlehandedly started the great exodus of the indie guitar masses over to dance. Previous to this the change had only taken place in dribs and drabs.

Snivilisation: Tied in with their great 94/95 festival performances this album confirmed that the vast majotiry involved in the exodus were never going back to the grey land of grunge and it's ilk.

Insides: Not at the cutting edge anymore but still probably one of the top 5 most beautiful home listening experiences of the last decade. "Out There Somewhere" is beyond compare and the intro to "The Girl With The Sun In Her Head" is incredibly poignant in an uplifting way.

Always hated Underworld's live shows - all those arms punching the air for that was essentially turgid 4 to the floor techno. For many they were just the token dance act. Hated the whole Loaded/Euro 96/Born Slippy allegiance. Enjoyed DubNoBass as it was a good sister piece to the Brown album.

Leftism is very overrated. Very rockist but quite dated now.

David Gunnip, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yes, by all accounts The Altogether is the first duff Orbital LP but Christ they've done their work, probably defined a decade more than any other act. No matter what shite they come out with in the future, their genius status cannot be harmed.

David Gunnip, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The big problem that I have with _Second Toughest..._ is that, while I like repetition in my music, the way it's employed on that album grates on my nerves. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but it seems that on every song except "Pearl's Girl" (and the dubby one near the end that I can never remember the name of) the songs go on and on, not because they're meant to or because there's enough substance to them to fill seven, eight, nine minutes, but because someone fell asleep with their finger on the "copy" button while programming patterns into the sequencer.

Dan Perry, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Point of order re. "Are We Here" - Prodigy's "Break and Enter" predated it by about a month. Unless P don't count as "techno."

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

second toughest was one of those leave it in the CD player and play it over and over again cds. it is ace. i think it's common to resent the born slippy cultural thing, but that does not debase the fact that it is a fucking great tune to dance off yr nuts to. esp v long mix. underworld live were the greatest.

Orbital are more fun, and more prolific, and now they're off into film score land, maybe they'll find new sounds to play with -- i'm glad they have the assurance and intuition to go with what they like. i'll still follow

Leftfield. Leftism is getting a lot of bashing here. which surprises me.

Alan Trewartha, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

My issue with "Born Slippy": when it originally came out, there were three mixes that I knew of:
- "Born Slippy (original)": Absolutely lovely. Nine minutes of breakbeats piling on top of each other with wonderful synth arpeggios rising through each tone of a harmonic minor scale, speeding up as they approached the high tonic, mixed in with wonderful screamy synths and an overall adrenaline haze.
- "Born Slippy (NUXX)": Stream-of-consciousness ranting over a fairly pedestrian beat that segues into a potentially nice trance workout that ends before it really gets a chance to go anywhere.
"Born Slippy (Telematic)" - A hybridization of "original" and "NUXX"; a vocal-free trance workout that explores some basic variations on a simple pattern.
Of the three, "NUXX" was far and away the least interesting mix. Which, of course, meant it was the one that everyone went mental over.

Dan Perry, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Rhythm and Stealth really slipped quietly into the night aswell didn't it? I mean considering the hype over Leftism.

I quite like both. After "Insides" I'd listen to either Leftfield album, Beaucoup Fish or Everything Everything. I should probably buy the other Underworld albums, I have heard them but don't own them.

Ronan, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i really like the lyric s to born slippy too, which makes me a very special order of loon.

Alan Trewartha, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

actually i don't think some of those look right. like it matters.

Alan Trewartha, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I wouldn't consider the Altogether a bad Orbital album. As someone else said, I find it a refreshing contrast to Middle of Nowhere. I can't say that Orbital OR Underworld has put out a lackluster album. I love them all. And Snivilisation......it's just a difficult listen....but always very rewarding whenever I have the courage to put it on.

I think every Underworld album is strong, though they do seem to front-load their albums a bit, I think. The weaker stuff on Underworld albums always seems to be near the end.

patrick, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

[Are we Here] seems like one of the few outsider-jungle tracks that a) captured the actual spirit of jungle
Tim, I don't think this is what you meant by that, but one thing (of many) I love about the track is that it actually sounds like a jungle. The opening drums are almost tribal, and the atmosphere is hazy and somewhat ominous (that one continuous low note, in particular). It's like they heard the term jungle, made a track around what they thought it should sound like, and it just happened to be a jungle track.

Vinnie, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The weaker stuff on Underworld albums always seems to be near the end.

Counterexample: "Kittens" is near the end of _Beaucoup Fish_.

Dan Perry, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Marcello - The Prodigy were a breakbeat act only just moving away from hardcore techno (which spawned jungle) so I don't really consider them an "outsider" act. "Break & Enter" isn't atypical for them, whereas "Are We Here?" is quite clearly a token jungle track (though impressively early in the piece) that just happens to be excellent.

Tim, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, Kittens is near the end of beaucoup fish.....it's just that I might be the only Underworld fan who is completely underwhelmed by Kittens. For me, Cups, Push Upstairs, Jumbo, King Of Snake and Winjer keep me very interested......but then to me the rest of that album just seems to trail off. Personally, though, I consider Beaucoup Fish a great album on the strength of that 5-track sequence alone.

patrick, Thursday, 24 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...
Tim, you're forgetting that much of Brown and Green are basically hardcore gone sensitive, like Papua New Guinea - think of the breakbeats on Lush. Because Orbital started as a 'rave' act they come far more from that sensibility than any kind of detroit thing, which is probably what makes 'em interesting.

I have to say fuck Leftfield. They were only ever a convenient re-working of the dance scene with more familiar elements for dinner party and TV sports show theme consumption. They've never done anything that wasn't utterly generic to the time it was made, and as such never produced anything as transcendent as Orbital.

Underworld are just boring techno with ranting over the top. They're just the follow-on iteration to Finitribe. Gold Chains are the new Underworld.

jacob, Thursday, 21 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

pretty, but no strong rhythmic backbone

uh waht

I Am Curious (Dolezal) (DJP), Monday, 14 September 2015 19:40 (one year ago) Permalink

let's set aside Snivilization and In Sides for a second; have you never heard "Satan"?????

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbs6GvLeEXQ

I Am Curious (Dolezal) (DJP), Monday, 14 September 2015 19:43 (one year ago) Permalink

Love the beat on 'I Wish I Had Duck Feet'

nashwan, Monday, 14 September 2015 19:43 (one year ago) Permalink

Snivilisation/InSides are basically front to back incredible imo; earlier work very much excellent but not quite on that level

Meta Forksclove-Liebeskind (forksclovetofu), Monday, 14 September 2015 19:47 (one year ago) Permalink

basically Orbital 2 -> The Middle of Nowhere is one of the best run of albums in anyone's discography

I Am Curious (Dolezal) (DJP), Monday, 14 September 2015 19:51 (one year ago) Permalink

xp yeah those two work best as albums I think, the first two are both excellent but each is less of a coherent whole than the subsequent two

Neil S, Monday, 14 September 2015 19:53 (one year ago) Permalink

xp it's up there with tom waits, prince and stevie as far as i'm concerned, yeah

Meta Forksclove-Liebeskind (forksclovetofu), Monday, 14 September 2015 19:54 (one year ago) Permalink

xxp - definitely. don't listen to any comps or anything, just those 4 albums front-to-back. I think Wonky is about that good as well. Green is absolutely not a good place to start, though the singles are must-haves.

frogbs, Monday, 14 September 2015 19:55 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm trying to figure out what Orbital songs you could possibly have encountered to form the impression that they have no strong rhythmic backbone

I Am Curious (Dolezal) (DJP), Monday, 14 September 2015 20:09 (one year ago) Permalink

their albums probably deserve the full reissue treatment like Underworld, lots of good alternate versions, remixes, live tracks etc. to be brought together

Neil S, Monday, 14 September 2015 20:40 (one year ago) Permalink

I just saw reissues for Green and Brown. Not sure if they're official or not. The sleeves have been redone and are kind of gross, so I assume they are official.

brotherlovesdub, Monday, 14 September 2015 21:01 (one year ago) Permalink

This thread reminds me that after going gaga over it, I hadn't actually played anything off Wonky in years besides the title track and "New France". Rectifying that right now.

I Am Curious (Dolezal) (DJP), Monday, 14 September 2015 21:14 (one year ago) Permalink

I think it's fair to say Orbital's music generally isn't particularly rhythmically showy or 'sick'. Mostly very straightforward, not even especially syncopated. Although that could be one definition of "solid". The breakbeat stuff on Snivilisation seemed sweet and naive compared to what was happening in Jungle a year or two previously.

Noel Emits, Monday, 14 September 2015 21:26 (one year ago) Permalink

As someone currently on an Orbital listening binge, I can't find a single song of theirs that doesn't feature rhythmic and melodic syncopation from any point in their career.

I Am Curious (Dolezal) (DJP), Monday, 14 September 2015 21:42 (one year ago) Permalink

Okay "Quality Seconds" doesn't have rhythmic syncopation in it but the entire melodic theme is a simple syncopated figure repeated for a minute; that is the first one I've found that isn't using syncopation in both the rhythm section and the melodic lines.

I Am Curious (Dolezal) (DJP), Monday, 14 September 2015 21:45 (one year ago) Permalink

This thread reminds me that after going gaga over it, I hadn't actually played anything off Wonky in years besides the title track and "New France". Rectifying that right now.

i revisited wonky recently! it rules so much

insufficiently familiar with xgau's work to comment intelligently (BradNelson), Monday, 14 September 2015 21:52 (one year ago) Permalink

Not intended as a damning criticism, it's just what they do. Rhythmically I think it is mostly quite simple, and not what i'd call highly syncopated. There also isn't much variation in fills and turnarounds for instance. Not to say it isn't well done or appropriate.

Noel Emits, Monday, 14 September 2015 21:58 (one year ago) Permalink

There's some insanity being talked about here re Orbital but I see DJP has already done my work in response and more comprehensively.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 14 September 2015 22:11 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm not saying there's no beats just that the beats that are there seem like an afterthought compared to the pretty melodies

the late great, Monday, 14 September 2015 22:54 (one year ago) Permalink

I actually half-addressed this over a decade ago upthread, but the idea that Orbital lacks a strong rhythmic backbone seems rooted in an assumption that melodic detail and rhythmic detail are in a zero sum game with one another. I think it's true that when one thinks of an archetypal Orbital track, typically it's the melodies that come to mind. In truth though the focus of their work isn't really on melody per se so much as the idea of interplay at all levels - melodic / textural / rhythmic.

So from one perspective what you don't typically get from an Orbital track is the minimalist intensity of really stripped down house and techno (or drum and bass, where the friction between just one or two elements (say, a beat and a riff) is writ large and dominates your sensory awareness. Orbital zoom back out to show you layer upon layer, and yeah the rhythm typically comprises only one or two of several, but to castigate them from that seems rather to miss the point - it strikes me as the equivalent of saying that a film with good acting is problematic because the good acting necessarily distracts from the cinematography somewhat.

My sense has always been that Orbital were mostly aware of this. Upthread ages ago I talked about "Are We Here" and how it sought to replicate the kind of melodic/textural interplay they're famous for almost solely at the rhythmic level by swiping ideas from jungle. What's interesting about this is the specificity of how they "get" jungle for this purpose: possibly a rip-off of A Guy Called Gerald, though impressively on-point if so - Gerald only struck on these ideas in 1993 with "Nazinji-Zaka" and "The Glok Track" and "Take Me", and along come Orbital with a slowed-down jazzsteppin-in-space take on same within 12 months. And kudos to them for realising how perfectly that approach fit their aesthetic, treating the breakbeat samples as the warp and weft just like they'd ordinarily treat arpeggios. And then that darkside moment which is like every Foul Play remix of 1993/1994 playing simultaneously.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQT08NFsf4w

Having done this, Orbital evidently never felt the need to try it again, but In Sides is quite remarkable for the casual intricacy of the rhythms and how they intersect and interact so fluidly with the melodic and textural motifs.

Middle of Nowhere is similar but perhaps more interesting to me for how Orbital superficially appear to retreat to more straightforward electro-tilted mid-pace techno rhythms, but actually across all the music in their discography the melodies and rhythms and textures never felt as completely and indivisibly intertwined as they do here, like on "Spare Parts Express" how the rhythm almost imperceptibly transforms from burbly electro to a kind of tom-heavy 'ardkore breakbeat when the tune goes all gothic organ darkside, then flips back for the coda. Or how on "Know Where To Run" they imagine rave emerging directly from Cabaret Voltaire and bypassing house altogether: scrungy industrial snares --> the breakdown with the single drum beat --> the rave-synth section with this almost Jamaican syncopated kick driving home the chord changes. Maybe best of all the sheer hyperactivity of "Nothing Left", like four Mad Mike Banks tracks playing simultaneously.

Tim F, Monday, 14 September 2015 23:12 (one year ago) Permalink

No I think Vahid is right in a way, with the exception of the Brown album (which is totally the one you should start with), and a couple of obvious exceptions (Are We Here?, I Wish I Had Duck Feet), you don't often get a sense that the beat is the foundation stone of everything. Unlike a lot of techno you don't get a sense that they're starting with the beat and composing upward from there (even the drippier end of Kompakt is constructed like this), Orbital tracks are often anchored around a melodic hook and the job of the beats is to interweave with that. Even Chime is propelled by the synth chords, and it's also a case for the mid-period stuff, even things like The Girl With The Sun In Her Head that literally build from the beat up. The result of this is that they can often be rhythmically quite limber without the beats ever forming the main focus of the music.

Plaid works as a comparison in that regard, except they often used that resultant rhythmic freedom to do more with meter than most of their contemporaries (virtually everyone except Autechre).

The take-home from this thread is that no one cares about that boring new Leftfield album.

Matt DC, Monday, 14 September 2015 23:14 (one year ago) Permalink

(xpost)

Matt DC, Monday, 14 September 2015 23:16 (one year ago) Permalink

does this not sound just like early plaid?

http://youtu.be/70tO7EyHLNA

good track, would be much improved by a booming think breaj

the late great, Monday, 14 September 2015 23:21 (one year ago) Permalink

think break, not breaj

the late great, Monday, 14 September 2015 23:21 (one year ago) Permalink

It does but in the way that a lot of c. 1992/1993 UK house did, I would have thought? I mean it's a lot like "Smokebelch II" in that regard, yeah?

Tim F, Monday, 14 September 2015 23:28 (one year ago) Permalink

Half the good of 'Monday' is the rawness of the 909 being used in that 'breakier' way while slower than in most rave and techno stuff of the time.

nashwan, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 12:08 (one year ago) Permalink

This isn't even a competition as far as I'm concerned: it's Orbital. Their second album alone urinates all over anything Leftfield have ever done from a huge height, and it's aged supremely well... and that's before we get to Snivilisation and In Sides.

Turrican, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 12:17 (one year ago) Permalink

The one I've been playing a ton lately is Middle of Nowhere, and upon relistening to it you can really see why things went south for them after that, they threw everything they had at it. It's such a dense and intricately constructed album even if it's not as much as 'leap' as their last three. They do tons of stuff well but they really had the best hooks out of any of 'em, and when you listen to a track like "Spare Parts Express" it's almost as if they're showing off.

frogbs, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 13:46 (one year ago) Permalink

I guess I'm going to have to pick up that orbital box set and educate myself

the late great, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 22:30 (one year ago) Permalink

Leftism is one of the best albums ever

Cosmic Slop, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 22:33 (one year ago) Permalink

The Blue Album is a nice return to form for them, and while some were not a fan of them embracing their older sound with a touch of nostalgia I loved it. Also the single "The Gun is Good" is probably one of the best things they've ever done, with the hilarious use of some Zardoz samples that makes for a perfectly oddball thing to drop in the middle of a set.

That said, In Sides and Snivilization are bonafide masterpieces. With Brown and Middle of Nowhere being really excellent bookends. Few bands of any genre can offer that, and most definitely Leftfield and Underworld can't.

octobeard, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 23:01 (one year ago) Permalink

I'd put Underworld above Leftfield too!

Turrican, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 23:11 (one year ago) Permalink

This is a dumb argument but I think Brown is a masterpiece or whatever, it's a perfect dance album. The next two moved further away from dance into (what became) more traditional home listening electronica. They are stupendous of course. But Brown is special for deploying their unique talents in such a straight-ahead raved-up way, rather than the cinematic approach of the next two.

xp

the most painstaking, humorless people in the world (lukas), Tuesday, 15 September 2015 23:11 (one year ago) Permalink

I understand what you mean, but I think that Orbital 2 is equally perfectly suited to "traditional home listening"

Turrican, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 23:14 (one year ago) Permalink

yes of course

the most painstaking, humorless people in the world (lukas), Tuesday, 15 September 2015 23:17 (one year ago) Permalink

That said, In Sides and Snivilization are bonafide masterpieces. With Brown and Middle of Nowhere being really excellent bookends. Few bands of any genre can offer that, and most definitely Leftfield and Underworld can't.

Disagree strongly on Underworld - I think every album they've done is brilliant, outside of perhaps A Hundred Days Off (and their early discs if you want to get technical). More than that they've got some of the best non-album material I've heard from any group - not just their most famous singles, but also deep gems like "Thing in a Book", "Oich Oich", "Parc", and a bunch of the Riverrun stuff. Their run from '93 to '99 is basically untouchable, IMO. I'd put Orbital over pretty much everything else, though.

frogbs, Wednesday, 16 September 2015 01:55 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Some sort of Leftism announcement tomorrow.

Tour/expanded reissue?

http://www.leftfieldmusic.com/

groovypanda, Sunday, 19 February 2017 20:59 (five months ago) Permalink

https://leftfieldsplash.com
Leftism remaster 2CD and tour.

StanM, Monday, 20 February 2017 09:12 (five months ago) Permalink

The 2 times I saw Leftfield in the space of a few months (Glasgow Barrowlands then T In The Park 96) remain the 2 best gigs I've ever been to.

Odysseus, Monday, 20 February 2017 09:18 (five months ago) Permalink

CD2 is just 11 "brand new" remixes which is slightly disappointing.

groovypanda, Monday, 20 February 2017 09:31 (five months ago) Permalink

i got a 2cd version of leftism not long after the album came out with an extra cd of remixes then.
but i think they were reversions done by the band as opposed to other folks.
ahh .. this :

https://www.discogs.com/Leftfield-Leftism/release/72724

leftfield are headlining the one festival i go to this year, and i am looking forward to it.
mk1 saw them last year at boomtown, and said they were one of the highlights

mark e, Monday, 20 February 2017 10:13 (five months ago) Permalink

I listened to Leftism recently and it's showing its age in a way that albums like In Sides and Middle of Nowhere aren't.

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Monday, 20 February 2017 19:36 (five months ago) Permalink

I listened to it recently and thought it was great! Maybe the setting helped - on the river beach in London on a summer night through crappy portable speakers with cheap lager and a small driftwood fire.

brekekekexit collapse collapse (ledge), Monday, 20 February 2017 19:50 (five months ago) Permalink

I listened to Leftism recently and it's showing its age in a way that albums like In Sides and Middle of Nowhere aren't.

Ha, I feel exactly the opposite way. Could listen to Leftfield anytime - haven't felt the urge to listen to Orbital in years.

Don Van Gorp, midwest regional VP, marketing (誤訳侮辱), Monday, 20 February 2017 20:05 (five months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Spectacular remaster! (Haven't dared listening to the remix cd though)

StanM, Tuesday, 16 May 2017 20:23 (two months ago) Permalink

The remixes are v disappointing.

nashwan, Tuesday, 16 May 2017 21:21 (two months ago) Permalink

i only liked 2 of the remixes at most

Odysseus, Tuesday, 16 May 2017 22:30 (two months ago) Permalink

The passage of time has been very kind to Leftism.
The Zomby remix is cool.

the article don, Thursday, 18 May 2017 01:02 (two months ago) Permalink

What a weird thread. They're not even remotely the same thing.

yesca, Thursday, 18 May 2017 03:55 (two months ago) Permalink


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