Paul Hartnoll Releases Solo Album
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
From their early success with 'Chime' in 1990, Orbital became one of the most acclaimed & pioneering electronic artists of the next decade.
They made seven albums, and their live shows - groundbreaking both in terms of performance and production - became a legendary fixture of the festival circuit around the world and particularly at Glastonbury, where they performed for the final time in 2004.
One attribute Paul carries over from his Orbital days is his nose for a great collaborator. Guests on the album include The Cure's Robert Smith on the forthcoming single Please. In addition to the Metro Voices choir, vocal contributions are also present from U.S singer songwriter Joseph Arthur ("Aggro"), Brighton's Lianne Hall ("For Silence") and South London's Akayzia Parker ("Nothing Else Matters.")
Work on The Ideal Condition began that same summer. "I wanted to do something different from what I'd done before, that was the point of not doing Orbital," says Paul, "It just took time to discover exactly what that was…"What evolved, whilst recalling the cinematic sensibilities and crowd-shaking rhythms of Paul's earlier work, is a collection of songs that takes those instincts and moves them into new and at times experimental terrain. The most obvious conceptual shift is that the balance of this record is tipped in favour of acoustic (as opposed to electronic) sounds. As Paul explains, "I wrote the whole album and then realised there were aspects of this that weren't gonna work unless it was done with real instruments."
"I started trying to piece it together like a novel, each song being a chapter and building it up in the same way a plot line might do. I can't honestly say it has a narrative from beginning to end, although it does strangely feel like a concept album without a concept."
With arranger Chris Elliott, Paul set about reversing the usual process - whereby electronic music might mimic the sounds of traditional instruments - and presented his compositions to an orchestra. "It's intimidating at first. You're looking at 40 people-virtuoso string players and thinking, 'I'm now going to ask you to play two notes for five minutes,' and you think they're going to turn round and say, 'this is ridiculous!' But they don't. They're all very discreet, they just get on with it."
The fruits of this union-full orchestra, 32 piece choir and "the whole compliment of electronics" are heard to dramatic effect on the album's opener, 'Haven't We Met Before,' "the fullest track on the record in terms of the amount of people playing on it and number of different parts." It's a deliberately grand opening and one that contrasts with later songs like 'Patchwork Guilt,' "the only track on the album that's entirely electronic and entirely played by me."
Between these extremes The Ideal Condition takes a remarkable journey into the realms of the possible while also recalling the familiar aspects of Paul's previous recordings. "This album's got a lot of film influences on it," says Paul, "all the old favourites the Michael Nyman, the John Barrys, Ennio Morricone, and you can hear a lot more of Danny Elfman on this one, I think. But it still finds its way back to the rhythm. I'm always trying to find a harmonic or melodic narrative-if you like going with the emotional side of it-and then as soon as that starts happening it's like a gut instinct I can't stop myself thundering in with the drumbeats. I almost do it for fun. Sometimes I manage not to, but I bet you on all the ones where I've managed not to I've tried it and it didn't work!"
When "the emotional side" wins out the results, like the almost "synth-free" composition for strings 'Dust Motes,' are extraordinary. More remarkable still is that The Ideal Condition is an album whe Tags