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William Orbit - Hello Waveforms

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William Orbit - Hello Waveforms

William Orbit - Hello Waveforms

Sanctuary Records

Anyone familiar with William Orbit's landmark "Strange Cargo" series or his production and co-writing chores on Madonna's Grammy-winning "Ray of Light" (those Microsoft commercials with the grassy hill? Yeah, that's him) will welcome with open arms his first solo release since 2000's "Pieces In A Modern Style." That album spawned the monster dance remix of "Adagio For Strings," vindicating Orbit's 15-year plus effort to get the album of reinterpreted classical pieces released.

But this new project is more reminiscent of the pioneering "Strange Cargo" series, with the opening track "Sea Green" positively echoing "Water From A Vine Leaf" from "Strange Cargo III," which old-time Orbitheads will recall featured deliciously seductive vocals from Beth Orton.

The beautiful melodies that appear about a minute into the song are an Orbit trademark, this time voiced on plucked electric guitar (the same instrumentation also makes an appearance to good effect on the intriguingly titled "You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers"). A slight variation on "Pieces" finds Orbit reworking opera (Madam Butterfly) instead of classical this time via the wonderfully bubbly "Humming Chorus," which in turn gives way to the shimmery glide of "Surfin," featuring former Strange Cargo band member Laurie Mayer on synths and piano.

William employs the Sugarbabes and Kenna on vocals for the downtempo groove of "Spiral," which seems destined for crossover success on urban charts and then Mayer returns to lend a hand on another funky title, "Who Owns The Octopus?", featuring nice interplay between the nu soul backbeat, signature percolating synths, processed guitar, and breathy female vox. She's also on "Bubble Universe" (yet another nerdy song title!), a sort of 23rd century lullaby.

"Fragmosia" is next, a guitar-based piece with some wonderful bowed strings providing the backdrop, and then "Firebrand," lots of fat chords and synthesized winds building to a pulsing beat. The angels return on "They Live In The Sky," at least that's what the choir of voices that open the song evoke, almost certainly so given the song's title. The album closes with "Colours From Nowhere," a languid piece that layers instrumental echoes and long notes to produce a trance-inducing shadowy state. And with that the album concludes, but it's not goodbye, merely au revoir.

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