Orbital are reluctant to fall back on the well-worn tools of techno, often stretching us to accept the unaccustomed...

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Zepp Osaka


Zepp Osaka

Cold November winds herd outrageous drag queens, flouro rave kids, scruffy band fans and vocal British imports into this isolated facility lost in recession-retarded development wasteland. Luke Slater and Richie Hawtin use all the techno tricks their machines possess for working up a crowd. Tension-building crescendos line up one after the other to be smashed by rib-rattling beat detonations, priming us for Orbital. Japan’s concrete and neon generations are poised and ready.

Headlights on. Orbital, the balance between the beat and the tune. Too much beat and we’re a mass of undisciplined marching rows getting no closer to the stage we’re facing. Too much tune and we’re not dancing. Sometimes they make sounds like the syncopated workings of a clockwork toy factory. Sometimes they’re just a storming, pulsing dance act to flail your limbs to. Always they have the proportions right. Luminous green oscillating sound waves span the hall’s width, vibrating to noises so familiar, so restorative. That’s from ‘Snivilisation’, that’s from ‘In Sides’, that’s from ‘The Middle Of Nowhere’ and that’s, um Belinda Carlisle.

Creative, discriminating, uncommon and distinctive, Orbital are reluctant to fall back on the well-worn tools of techno, often stretching us to accept the unaccustomed. Never less than a good time to gyrate to. ‘Satan’ is summoned once more for the encore. A grinning Phil Hartnoll writhes like some ecstatic, greased-up reveller from hell itself. Studious Paul Hartnoll pours over his controls like so many dials in an evil laboratory – no more appropriate setting was devised for the abuse of that deathly whine from the theme to Dr Who. When it comes, a disturbing euphoria takes hold. Two Lone Swordsmen close out the morning but time at this show will be marked as before, during and after Orbital in the minds of those present. Enthralling and uplifting.

Bryan Scruby