Chronology - Written and Compiled By Jones/Loopz
still without name, Paul & Phil Hartnoll play live for the very
first time at The Grasshopper in Westerham, a 'Bernie Inn-style'
establishment complete with carvery and big plates, located somewhere
on the Kent/Sussex border. Late as usual with names and titles,
the Hartnolls elect to call themselves Orbital in celebration of
the M25, that dreaded stretch of tarmac that encircles the capital
and which at the time plays a central role in the Rave and Acid
House scene in the South East. 'Chime' is recorded at home in Dunton
Green near Sevenoaks on skeletal studio equipment and is mastered
from cassette for release on Jazzy M's independent Oh-Zone label.
There is a buzz surrounding the track and the original one thousand
12" singles sell out immediately through word of mouth. More copies
are pressed up but supply cannot satisfy demand.
Orbital join the Synergy tour. Other live shows that year include
Kaos at The Warehouse in Leeds and Energy at Docklands Arena alongside
Guru Josh, The Shamen, Black Box, and Adamski. In March 'Chime'
gets nationwide distribution by London Records dance subsidiary
FFrr. It becomes a nationwide dance anthem and soon reaches No.17
in the UK singles charts which results in an invitation to appear
on Top Of The Pops. Prevented from playing live and forced to mime,
they give a reluctant performance, to say the least, whilst sporting
anti-Poll Tax T-shirts. The follow-up single 'Omen' featuring vocal
samples from ABC peaks at No.46.
'Belfast' c/w 'Satan' is released - highest chart position is No.31.
The intro to 'Satan' is sampled from US rockers the Butthole Surfers.
Another double-A sided single 'Choice' c/w 'Midnight' follows in
August; the anti-war rant included in the former is provided by
Crass label signings Crucifix. It is followed in September by the
untitled debut, or 'green' album featuring live versions of 'Chime'
and 'Midnight' along with 'The Moebius' and 'Desert Storm', the
latter being recorded to a backdrop of Gulf War TV news flashes.
They remix and completely overhaul The Pied Piper's 'Kinetic' and
in December headline Australia's biggest rave to date in Sydney
on New Years Eve. Paul buys a digeridoo. As you do.
The 'Mutations' EP is released featuring remixes of tracks from
the first album courtesy of Joey Beltram, Moby, Meat Beat Manifesto,
Dave Angel etc. It also includes their own remix of 'Chime', retitled
as 'Crime'. 'Mutations' reaches No.24. Orbital remix Meat Beat Manifesto,
EMF and The Drum Club. Orbital relocate to newly formed London Records
subsidiary Internal in September and release the 'Radiccio' EP which
features 'Halcyon' and 'The Naked & The Dead' which features vocal
samples of Scott Walker. Highest chart position is No.37. Orbital
use battery operated light headsets for the first time. Though purely
functional (they enable Orbital to work their machinery whilst onstage)
the headsets soon become a trademark that is often copied by others.
In November they embark on their first US dates. The 'Communion'
tour, with Meat Beat Manifesto, Ultramarine and local DJs cover
East and West coasts ...and the 'Deliverance' bits too.
'Lush' is released with remixes by Underworld, Psychick Warriors
Ov Gaia and CJ Bolland. The single reaches No. 43 in the singles
charts. Orbital are instrumental in setting up the 'Midi Circus'
tour of the UK which they go on to headline. In May the second untitled,
or 'Brown' album is released entering at the charts at No.28. It
includes 'Impact (The Earth Is Burning)', 'Remind' and an upgraded
version of 'Halcyon' - 'Halcyon+on+on'. A session is recorded for
John Peel and is broadcast in September. Orbital headline the Megadog
New Years Eve show at Brixton Academy.
The Peel session is released. Due to Industry guidelines it is ineligible
for the charts. In June Orbital play Glastonbury, previewing material
from their forthcoming album, and establish their live reputation
on the highest level. 'Snivilisation' is released in August entering
the album charts at No.4. They appear at the Woodstock II Festival
in the States. In September the 'Are We Here?' single reaches No.32.
The UK tour lasts throughout October - twenty sold-out dates played
'in the round' from the top of a specially constructed scaffolding
tower at each venue. Brixton Academy sells out rapidly and a second
London date is arranged for the Kentish Town T&C.
Orbital's remix of Madonna's 'Bedtime Story' is released. In April,
Bristol Sound City. They play via ISDN from their studio, previewing
a new track 'Times Fly' as part of the live broadcast of Radio One's
Interactive Night and in May headline Tribal Gathering at Otmoor
Park, Oxfordshire. Over 25,000 people attend the event. They play
the Main Stage at Glastonbury on the Saturday evening in front of
an estimated 60,000. Many feel the performance eclipses even that
of the previous year. Excerpts are broadcast on television by Channel
4. A new untitled EP ('Times Fly') is released in defiance of chart
rulings which ensures its exclusion from the singles charts.
'The Box' single is released, entering the charts at No.11, followed
in May by the fourth album 'In Sides', which enters at No.5, soon
selling over 100,000 copies in the UK alone. It features 'The Girl
With The Sun In Her Head' recorded with the aid of Cyrus, the Greenpeace
mobile solar generator. Later that month they embark on an extensive
UK tour and sell out the Albert Hall in London, followed by sixteen
European festival dates. In August they play V96 and headline The
Greater London Earth Energy Music festival. October: they perform
a blistering new version of their forthcoming single 'Satan Live'
on 'Later With Joolz Holland' as fellow guests Jackson Brown and
Joe Cocker stare in open-mouthed bewilderment. On New Years Eve,
Orbital play to 12,000 people at Alexandra Palace and mix 'Chime'
with the chimes of Big Ben at midnight. Unforgettable. The show
is broadcast on New Years Day on Radio One.
'Satan', which reached No.31 on its original release in 1991, now
enters as 'Satan Live' at No.3 in the first week of the new year.
Later in April, and now relocated back to the FFrr label, Orbital
release 'The Saint', the theme tune from the Hollywood remake of
the classic 60s cult TV series starring Val Kilmer. The promo video
features a cameo by Roger Moore. The film itself receives mixed
reviews though the single enters at No.3. In May Orbital co-headline
Tribal Gathering alongside Kraftwerk and throughout June play the
final slot on the East Coast leg of Lollapalooza tour in the US.
Channel 4 broadcasts 'The Visit', a gritty, real-life thirty minute
drama set in Hull young offenders prison: all acting is by the inmates,
whilst Orbital provide the soundrack. Another version of 'Satan'
is recorded with Metallica's Kirk Hammett for inclusion on the soundtrack
to the film 'Spawn'. In July Orbital play two shows at the Phoenix
Festival: Radio One broadcast Orbital's Dance Tent set. The following
month sees the release of the soundtrack to 'Event Horizon', a collaboration
(of sorts) between noted Hollywood composer Michael Kamen and Orbital
for the sci-fi horror. In the autumn work begins on building a new
Orbital studio is upgraded and work commences on the new album.
mark the first ten years of Orbital activity, they undertake their
most successful and comprehensive UK tour to date which followed
soon after by the release of their fifith album, "The Middle Of
Nowhere". This becomes their third consecutive Top 5 album chart
placing, once again entering at number three, and is again at the
receiving end of great critical acclaim. A single, "Style", is Top
taking a short and well-earned break the Hartnolls begin work on
their sixth studio album. This time the recording uses 3D SurroundSound
technology. In June they supply an exclusive new piece of music
for a modern dance project as part of the South Bank Centre's Meltdown
Festival which is this year curated by one of the Hartnolls' all
time heroes, Scott Walker, whilst in October they play a one-off
live show at the Hammersmith Palais as part of Q magazine's pre-award
ceremony celebrations: one of three new tracks previewed on the
night ("Tension") is later broadcast on Channel 4. On New Years
Eve they round off the year with a live set at the London Arena
in Docklands. The set is broadcast the following day on Radio One.
spent the beginning of the year finishing off the 6th album and
working on a 5:1 SurroundSound version. The first single since "Beached"
is released - Funny Break (One is Enough) featuring Naomi Bedford
reaches number 21 in the charts. The Altogether is finally released
on April 24th and Orbital head on tour in May. The tour starts in
the UK, takes them all across various European festivals, across
America for a month and then back to the UK.
"Illuminate" double pack is released in December with
mixes from Charlie May, Sasha, Dark Globe, Medicine and Orbital
themselves. They finish the year performing in Dublin the day before
were expecting a quiet year after the previous years chaos but the
final London Records release is planned. Orbital decide to call
it a day with the record company they started with 10 years ago.
They release the Work, Rest and Play EP in May which features a
new working of "Chime", a club friendly track called "Frenetic"
and a previously unavailable track called Monorail (was originally
available on the Altogether Japanese album). A month later they
release their retrospective collection album called WORK.
Orbital celebrate the release by playing two special open-air gigs
at Somerset House in London. A week later they make their 4th appearance
at Glastonbury by headlining the Other Stage on the Saturday night.
All three nights got great reviews. The following month they play
live at the Arvika Festival in Sweden and T in the Park in Scotland.
Work starts on a film score called "Octane".
Orbital score the music to the horror film ‘Octane’
directed by Marcus Adams and starring Madeleine Stowe. The score
album is released by EMI in October.
They also score the US TV series “Keen Eddie” and begin
working on tracks which will become the “Blue Album”
2004 will see the last ever
Orbital record and gigs. After 15 years together Phil & Paul
will pursue different projects but will be finishing with a Brixton
Academy show and closing Glastonbury on the second stage. The 7th
studio LP the ‘Blue Album’ will be released on June
and Compiled by Loopz
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