Orbital’s ‘the Brown Album’ conjures a calming yet danceable atmosphere. The sort of music that would accompany a sunrise during a long night out for example.
The gradual, layered introduction to ‘Planet of the Shapes’ focusses on the machine-like, repetitive structure of the percussion and bass, for which the techno genre is best known. As like many tracks on the album, the beat drives the song forward with other elements fading in and out. Every now and again the percussion will pause, to rest those legs and soak in the moment, before starting back up again to carry the song on.
There are some lovely, simple riffs, for example that of ‘Lush 3-1’ which soars over a dense synth pattern and percussion arrangement. The airy vocals of ‘Lush 3-2’ and ‘Impact (The Earth Is Burning)’ complement one another well and form a dreamy section of the album. The mood becomes more tense in the middle of the record, with the keyboard lines of ‘Remind’ and ‘Walk Now…’ adding a sense of urgency. The occasional sonic experiments, such as the opening looping of ‘Time Becomes’ and ‘Input/Output’, add an extra dimension to the record and offer a glimpse into the sort of work that goes into creating the music.
The pinnacle of the album is reached with the near ten minute epic ‘Halycon + On + On’. It’s as if the dust is clearing and we have reached our techno destination. All the tricks from earlier in the record – the airy vocals; the repetitive, danceable beat; the chilled out feel – come together to form a soothing and pleasant finale.