10.58 (three hours with 8:58)
Paul Hartnoll may say “For me, 8:58 is a moment of choice. It’s almost 9 o’clock. Are you going to school? Are you going to this job you hate? Everybody faces that decision now and again. 8:58 am is when you’ve got to make up your mind.” But, for me, 10.58 is the moment of choice. After a quarter of a century loving Orbital’s work, having seen them many times, after 88 Orbital posts, how do I feel about a solo album?
The album opens with the 8:58 track featuring the distinctive intro from Cillian Murphy (to anyone who’s watched Peaky Blinders). I nearly got cut by those cheekbones at the station the other day. Cheer up Cillian. No need to look so moody. The track is (and I think there are going to be a number of Orbital references here, unavoidably) one of those Orbitalish ascending, hopeful chiming tracks. Very much like something on Wonky. Very much like a day bunking off school.
The album features a range of sleb vocalists, the first of whom is Robert Smith on Please. And it features a classic Orbital chord sequence (think Girl With The Sun In Her Head, perhaps). Wiki says “The song “Please” is a reworking of the track of the same name from the album The Ideal Condition, Paul Hartnoll’s solo album.” I’d forgotten that. Must dig this out of the loft. But, to be honest, I’ve never much cared much for Robert Smith’s voice on this track.
The Past Now has a lovely vocal from Lisa Knapp, very much in the tradition of Alison Goldfrapp on Orbital’s albums. It may be about the past but this soars into the future. Ed Harcourt (who?) adds to Villain, which starts a bit like I Second That Emotion. There’s a bit too much of the soundtrack to this tune. A bit disposable without some hyper-stylised violence visuals.
Cillian Murphy brings back the huskiness to Clock to return to Hartnoll’s recurring time theme. “We live our lives to the clock. Am I right?” he says. You are so right, Sir. The tune is properly dystopian as an accompaniment. Full of anxiety, rage and techno harshness. A paean to us wage slaves.
A Forest featuring Unthanks is a cover of The Cure’s A Forest. It’s warped about such that it’s almost unrecognisable. A stately pace makes it into something epically sad. Broken Up is an album highlight, but that may say something about my preference for instrumentals. It’s a broken beat piece with all sorts going on. Needs multiple listens to disclose its little pleasures.
Nearly There is the penultimate track and breaks out the techno polyrhythms. This is one of those buzzing techno tracks that recalls (for me, at least) the early 90s, dry ice, lasers and strobes. Cemetery closes the album and includes vocals from Fable. This is an odd track, since the first half is rather conventional electronic vocal tune but turns into a great epic hymn by the end. There should have been more of that on this album.
Time’s Up. So, conclusions, conclusions. How do I feel about a solo album? There is much to enjoy in the album. The tracks 8:58 and Clock work best, since Cillian does a spoken vocal, rather than lyrics. They also add a necessary spikiness that’s sometimes lacking from the rest of the album. These tracks apart, I rather preferred the instrumentals that come with the double CD. But for anyone who has enjoyed Orbital over these past years, get yourself a copy.
The album’s available for streaming here. And the video for 8:58 is here (featuring Cillian Murphy)
Digital standard edition: http://smarturl.it/8-58
Digital deluxe edition: http://smarturl.it/8-58-Deluxe
Standard CD: http://smarturl.it/8-58StandardAmazon…
Deluxe 2xCD: http://smarturl.it/8-58DeluxeAmazon
And heavyweight double vinyl: http://smarturl.it/8-58LP-Amazon