💿 Orbital listening club 💿

Hi everyone. I had so much fun with @sizeofanocean’s Mogwai thread, I thought I’d start my own for Orbital. Hopefully we can get some chat going.

I’ll be totally ripping off the Mogwai format. Start on a Sunday, vote for fav track on Wednesday and score the album on a Friday. We can chat about any of the ep’s attached to any of the albums during that albums chat. We’ll include 20 and the live at Glastonbury album. Possibly the soundtracks, if people are interested.

We should probably take a week to talk about Long Range and the Ideal Condition as well.

Today we’ll start with Orbital (Green). Released on 30 September, 1991, when the dance world was a very different place.

There is an American and European version of the album. We’ll be voting on the European version.

So if you’re an old fan or want to dip your toes in, please join us.

Happy listening.


I’m so up for this.

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Definitely prefer the European tracklisting (wasn’t really aware that there was a different US version, tbh). The Moebius is a great opener and it means you get Chime followed by Midnight followed by Belfast at the end, a staggeringly good run of tracks.


Here we go here we go

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Belfast is blissful, there’s something so pure there, I feel loved by it when I listen, along with Chime and Midnight it’s a beautiful 20 minute stretch. I was just reading a bit about it, didn’t realise The Beloved had used the exact same sample of O Euchari for the Sun Rising a couple of years earlier. I don’t feel that strongly about the rest of the album but it definitely ends on a massive high.


What beloved track is that? I’d like to check it out.

Here you go


Although Orbital did it better. :slight_smile: Belfast will always remind me of this. Perfect use in a soundtrack.


The demo of Belfast before the O Euchari vocal sample was added:

And a Paul Hartnoll blog post from a few years ago talking about how the track came about.


Looking forward to giving this a listen today. I seem to recall that apart from the obvious highlights, it wasn’t in the top tier. Not bad, just not as consistent as a lot of the others.

Orbital changed everything for younger me. I saw video of them playing Impact at Glastonbury and suddenly the idea that everything had to have a guitar on it was wiped away…

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Think this might be the first time I’ve made it all the way through the debut LP. I don’t think it’s aged nearly as well as debuts by LFO, The Black Dog, or (and I know it’s hitting a slightly different genre) The Orb who were all presumably using similar equipment around this time.

Feels to me like a blueprint where you can hear lots of signature Orbital stylistic elements starting to emerge (e.g. the snare patterns in Speedfreak and Oola and the synth sound around 3 mins in the latter). Some real high points for sure (Belfast sounds lush) but the change in depth of sound between this and Orbital 2 is huge.


I’d forgotten about that blog. It was sad watching his 8:58 project falling apart, but it wasn’t helped by the fact that the album wasn’t any good.
But we can talk about that before Monsters Exist.

That Belfast demo is really good but it’s amazning how much that sample of O Euchari makes the song pop.

I saw some footage of him performing around that time, with some equipment set up on some wonky tables and hardly anyone watching, which was sad. I’m glad that they managed to reconcile their differences, because it’s amazing how much there is in a name.

This thread means I’ll finally be giving the blue album another try too, as that’s another one that never really did it for me. Enough negativity though, most of their stuff is so good…


This is worth a watch. Interesting to see how their sound was developing. The direction is really weird though. The way it’s shot looks like no ones watching them, and that the few that are there are bored until Chime. Only then do they show that there’s 40,000 people in front of them going wild.

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I always used to think the debut sounded really dated, but now I think that’s almost precisely what I enjoy about it. As @Twinkletoes said above, at times it does feel like a blueprint, but unlike him I have no problem getting through the record.

Probably a 7, but would be an 8 if I didn’t have to leave room for everything that comes afterwards.


I think Orbital/Green Album gets a bit of unfair flack given its age, but I think it still sounds great, especially through a nice multi-speaker sound system which can add a lot of depth to the overall flat sound. I find it especially hard to criticise in that the Hartnolls are playing with sounds that were absolutely ubiquitous at the time and yet still carved out an identity from the hardware and early software despite how much some of them have dated for better or worse. There’s something immediately recognisable about an Orbital beat; always slightly fussy kicks that take up more space than contemporary acts but rarely verging into break-beat in their early days, more prone to utilising slow drops in tempo - as Belfast does beautifully. Belfast also carries a lot of twinkling synthwork that they really explored to their best effect on In Sides - it definitely feels like the true ‘Orbital’ moment on the debut. Yeah, they bettered everything on Orbital 2/Brown Album but all the shapes are in play here, it’s just lacking the finer production that came with a couple more years experience.


So it seems like this Listening Club is already paying off for me. I’d never really bothered with the Green album. I got into Orbital in ‘99 so this already sounded horribly dated to my ears and I never really bothered with it. Boy was wrong, this is a really good album. It is primitive, but for it’s time? This should be a landmark album instead of getting skipped over for Brown.
Belfast and Chime always get the glory when people talk about Green but Speedfreak when it changes up at 3:20 is gold. Oolaa, Desert Storm and Fahrenheit 303 are all great songs that I’d like to hear polished up and chucked into a live set at some point. Steel Cube and High Rise could happily be dropped to make Green top tier Orbital because that run of Chime to Belfast is amazing.
The American version is interesting because they did drop Steel and High and added Satan and Choice instead. I’m not sure about sticking Belfast at the beginning but it makes the album far more dynamic and ends in a far more storming fashion. The production is much better as well, there’s more dynamic range, however the Moby remix of Speedfreak is really poor.

Anyway. Brilliant album.

I’ll post the track poll later today when I work out how to do complicated polls :smiley:


Think Desert Storm is where it dips a bit for me. Does not do nearly enough to justify being 12 minutes long (and I have no problem with long tracks). Not awful, just a bit samey without being hypnotic enough to hook me in for a prolonged period.

Oola might be the big hidden gem here. Obviously Chime and Belfast are wonderful.


And here’s the track poll for the Green album. You have 2 votes.

Green album
  • The Moebius
  • Speed Freak
  • Oolaa
  • Desert Storm
  • Fahrenheit 303
  • Steel Cube Idolatry
  • High Rise
  • Chime
  • Midnight
  • Belfast
  • I Think It’s Disgusting

0 voters

Yes. A lot better than I remember. Perhaps I was less fond because it’s just a collection of individual tracks, and their best albums have a lot of “suites”. And a couple of tracks are certainly pretty anonymous.

I’m still not expecting to change my mind on the blue album, though. :slight_smile:

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