On May 28th ACP Recordings presents The Ideal Condition, the solo albumfrom Paul Hartnoll - his first major release since he and his brother disbanded their group, Orbital, three years ago. From their early success with, ‘Chime’ in 1990, Orbital became one of the most acclaimed 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. 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. “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.” The most obvious conceptual shift is that the balance of this record is tipped in favour of acoustic (as opposed to electronic) sounds.
Guests on the album include The Cure’s Robert Smith on the forthcoming single “Please.” “He’s got that whiney-bendy voice which was a lot like the lead lines I’d written for that song. I wanted someone who could do that naturally so I asked him, and he was up for it.” 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.”) From what Paul calls the “Boadicea moment” of the album’s opener to the “steam driven synthesiser” of “Simple Sounds” via the old school electro of “Patchwork Guilt” and the neo-classical coda of “Dust Motes”, The Ideal Condition is a vivid testament to the scope and sensibility of one of modern music’s most innovative and resourceful minds.
I enjoyed the few songs streaming from the album at Pauls MySpace. Maybe this will be a better offering than the last few Orbital albums.