Release Date: Sep 14, 2018
Record label: ACP
"Monsters Exist" was one of several phrases which momentarily flashed on-screen during the video for Orbital's iconic 1996 single "The Box." 22 years later, the brothers Hartnoll re-used the phrase as the title of their ninth studio album (and first since reuniting for the second time). The monsters in question range from world leaders to personal demons, but Orbital don't tackle these subjects head on. As with much of their work, however, there's still a political and philosophical underpinning to these tracks.
Take a second to reflect on how remarkable Orbital's initial run was. Since the British duo of Phil and Paul Hartnoll first put the eternal "Chime" to tape using their father's cassette deck in 1988, the brothers spent the 1990s establishing themselves as one of the rave era's most masterful dance teams, casually crafting side-long moments of bliss while pushing their sound forward in subtle, complex ways. They survived the commercialization of rave, released a series of strong albums within a genre that's never had much use for the format, and, despite their involvement in electronica-era zeitgeist moments like the soundtrack to 1997's Val Kilmer vehicle The Saint, managed to make it through the decade without too many embarrassing decisions to their name.
After breaking up "for the final time" in 2014, Orbital played a number of live dates last summer, announcing that they're "back for good." Although the Hartnoll brothers have rushed out recordings in the past, (their 1994 classic Snivilisation came just a year after Brown Album), their ninth LP simply feels like a rush job. After their well-received 2012 LP Wonky, the British duo once again attempt to channel their characteristically chiming electro sound on Monsters Exist. Album highlights like "P.H.U.K." and "Buried Deep Within ….
Orbital makes more room for atmospheric introspection on their latest album, Monsters Exist, by scaling back the aggressive drum n' bass that defined 2012's Wonky. In the wake of an acrimonious falling out that led Phil and Paul Hartnoll to stop speaking to each other for five years, the reunited brothers--who've never shied away from politically and environmentally conscious overtones in their music--draw inspiration from the anxieties of what they describe as the current “global situation” rather than from their own interpersonal conflict. Brexit in particular looms large on the cheekily titled track “P.