Tuesday, April 11, 2006

William Orbit - "Hello Waveforms"

Release Date: Feb. 21, 2006
Okay so before a few weeks ago I had heard of William Orbit in the same way the rest of the non-undergroundelectronichip world had - through his collaboration with Madonna on her last album "Ray of Light". I was reasonably impressed by this album while listening to any Madonna album is confined to the guilty pleasure category. I guess I had also heard his remix of Electrical Storm (U2) and maybe vaguely remembered something about his electronic remaking of classical pieces on "Adagio for Strings". I was not among the hardcore Orbiters who waited six years for this anticipated solo project - and who were therefore mostly disappointed - I mean six years is a long time to wait. I suppose this gives me a certain innocence/ignorance in reviewing this album.
The first track I heard was "They Live in the Sky" (Listen) I happened on it on the radio and craved it for a week until I could figure out where it came from. The song typifies what is beautiful about Orbit's distinctive sound - the sweeping synth sounds that you could never find on your sister's casio, the simple bubbling melodies, the sense of dynamic direction without abusing mechanisms typical of electro-pop like bass breakdowns and stereo flange. The songs are eloquent and carry this kind of brooding sense of anticipation. This anticipation is what most people seem to critique about the album - It anticipates but does not deliver leaving you nowhere. I was rather fond of the insatiated anticipation - the lack of resolve into quarter notes on the kick and a blaring anthem. The album seems to me to have been a bit like going out for a walk and finally deciding that actually getting somewhere couldn't be near as fun as the adventure of just exploring around a bit.
Other favorite tracks were "Bubble Universe" "Sea Green" "Colours from Nowhere"
I will say that my least favorite track on the album is the first single "Spiral". The album also seems to me to be a bit overly song-oriented. If an album brings on the chill I prefer a bit more continuity between tracks.


danszombathy said...

Thank you, Alien Corpse, for the lesson in chill-out music!

I will agree, that "Spiral" is completely unlistenable. It's a little too Direct Effect for me.

I, too, liked the songs that were more ambient and less song-y.

I also like the William Orbit song from (shudder) the OC mix 1. It has a song structure, too, but is much more tolerable to my tastes because of the folky melody and guitars.

Alien Corpse, what are the best chill-out albums/songs out there, if one wanted to take a dip into that world?


Yes well the thing with chillout is that it is somewhat hard to define - atleast for this chill novice. I guess the idea was to have a room for the partied out ravers to come down in. There seem to be a mix of chillout artists (maybe like zero7, and halou) and songs that have been chilled-out. Chillout mixes often throwback to Bjork, Massive Attack, Tricky, Cocteau Twins, stuff that that we would have otherwise forgotten about.
I rather like the Chillout mixes (02,03,04...) - Halou has a new album out that sounds really good (their album We Only Love You is a classic) Zero7 is good (I liked Simple Things)I dig the Dead Texan self-titled album which has chill appeal. I think a great album that could not properly so called be considered chilled-out but that is very chill in its own right is the mix Dreamworld. Since we are talking William Orbit I recently got The Best of StrangeCargos which is a nice compilation of that series of albums. Welcoming any input...


oh one more thing -
three songs that capture for me what is chill are 1) Motorcycle - "As the Rush Comes" 2)Ivy - "Edge of the Ocean" and 3)BT - "The Great Escape".
I think these were some of the first "chill" songs I had heard and it was some sort of love at first listen.

danszombathy said...

I like "The Great Escape".

Alien Corpse, have you ever listened to an old German band called Neu? I believe one of the guys from Neu went on to Kraftwerk. It's proto-chill music in my mind. "Hallogallo" is good, as are "Fuer Immer" and "Isi" (my fav).

A good list for you to come up with, Alien Corpse, is a list of your favorite chill-out songs. Not necessarily the genre of chill-out, but whatever helps you to relax after a long day of fighting the good fight for good music across our galaxy.

Tim said...

ALIEN, can I just call you ALIEN? I would agree with dan...thanks for the chill lesson.

I only listened to that one William Orbit song that you included in the post (which you totally have to show me how to do) but it dredged up memories of listening to Portishead. The trip-hop genre kinda faded into this genre of "chill out" didn't it?

Zero7 had a great song on the Garden State soundtrack called "In the waiting line." it's the "Everyone's saying different things to me, different things to me..." song. That's how I remember it. Great Chill-out song.

I, too, would like a top 5 that gave me an "in" to the chilled out genre. It could be a prescription, like, "take these five songs and feel chilled out in the morning."

JohnLDrury said...

Alien Corpse,
Thanks for the post. You are so versatile! The Modonna/Orbit connection got me thinking about the symbiotic mainstream/sidestream relationship. Are certain genres more ready-made for this kind of cross-pollenation and introductions? Or is it especially unique to electronica?

danszombathy said...

Interesting observation about the symbiosis between the "mainstream" and the "sidestream", John.

I can't think of any other examples outside the pop-electronic symbiosis of the pop world looking to the underground to collaborate.

Now, there are certainly plenty examples of the pop world looking to the underground for "inspiration", i.e., "ripping them off"...

Weezer ripping off Pavement.
U2 ripping off Echo and the Bunnymen.
Every 80s pop band ripping off New Order.