Sounds truly appalling, doesn't it? Whenever people from rock or dance music start dabbling in the murky netherworld of classical music, that's when any right-minded modern music fan reaches for their
Sounds truly appalling, doesn’t it? Whenever people from rock or dance music start dabbling in the murky netherworld of classical music, that’s when any right-minded modern music fan reaches for their revolver.
You automatically think ‘Hooked On Classics’, which put a ‘groovy’ 4/4 drum-machine beat to famous classical pieces. You think of David St Hubbins telling Derek Smalls, “I’ve always wanted to do a selection of my acoustic numbers with the London Philharmonic.” You think of the ‘instant epic -just add strings!’ formula that pervaded the latter days of Britpop. And you think, “Oi! Orbit! Nooooooo!”
Sooner or later, someone was bound to act on the theory that ambient is the new classical, and try to explicitly link the two genres. Thankfully, William Orbit may be one of the few people on the planet who could prevent this record being an abomination.
And that’s what ambient was invented for, right?
It’s not all squawk, nerk, splerk, mind. Vivaldi’s ‘L’Inverno’ sounds majestic as a space age hymn, as does Handel’s ‘Xerxes’, even if the latter does start to plod and meander in the same way you remember it doing when you were nailed to your pew as a bored child.
That said, there’s a couple of real toe-curlers here. Judging by the cloyingly ersatz muzak Orbit makes of Mascagni’s ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’, we can only presume that the title means ‘Music for a 1972 baby lotion advert’ or ‘We’re sorry for this break in transmission, meanwhile, here’s some music’. And his attempts to inject an exotic ‘Trans-Global Underground meets Eno’s arse’ flavour halfway through Beethoven’s ‘Triple Concerto’ are just plain irritating.
But if attempting to dress ancient monuments in radical, avant-garde clothing was always going to be a hit-and-miss project, he’s still succeeded for the most part in making a richly ambient, evocative record from apparently staid and stale old material. We await his appearance at next year’s Proms with glowing lightsticks aloft.