Chart for stowaways – 25 February 2017

These are this week’s albums:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3
  2. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group
  3. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Trilogy
  4. Dusty Springfield – Reputation
  5. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun
  6. David Bowie – Legacy
  7. Delerium – Mythologie
  8. Air – Twentyears
  9. David Bowie – Station To Station
  10. Shit Robot – What Follows

Chart for stowaways – 18 February 2017

Here are the singles for this week:

  1. Depeche Mode – Where’s the Revolution?
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 17)
  3. Goldfrapp – Anymore
  4. C Duncan – Wanted to Want It Too
  5. Delerium with Phildel – Ritual
  6. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 19)
  7. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Never Ever
  8. Weeknd Ft Daft Punk – I Feel It Coming
  9. Pet Shop Boys – Say It to Me
  10. The Human League – Sky

Chart for stowaways – 11 February 2017

Move along, nothing to see here…

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3
  2. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group
  3. Dusty Springfield – Reputation
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Trilogy
  5. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun
  6. Delerium – Mythologie
  7. David Bowie – Legacy
  8. Air – Twentyears
  9. Mike Oldfield – Return To Ommadawn
  10. Shit Robot – What Follows

Chart for stowaways – 4 February 2017

Here’s the new singles chart:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 17)
  2. C Duncan – Wanted to Want It Too
  3. Delerium with Phildel – Ritual
  4. Depeche Mode – Where’s the Revolution?
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Say It to Me
  6. Goldfrapp – Anymore
  7. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Never Ever
  8. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 19)
  9. The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk – I Feel It Coming
  10. Röyksopp – I Had This Thing

The Orb – Orblivion

The Orb are always a little bit odd – it probably goes without saying – and “odd” is definitely a good term to describe their fifth album Orblivion, released in 1997. Six years on from their debut, this album actually gave them their first US hit album, and also, with Toxygene, their biggest UK hit. As it celebrates its twentieth birthday, now seems a good time to give it another listen.

It opens with the pleasant Delta Mk II, which ripples along with arpeggios for a very soft and gentle seven minutes, before it mixes almost imperceptibly into the lovely Ubiquity. Whereas preceding releases Pomme Fritz (1994) and Orbus Terrarum (1995) had been downright silly and distinctly earthbound (respectively), Orblivion saw a return to the obscure science fiction-based aural adventure of earlier releases, and this is very audible on the first couple of tracks.

The tracks move so swiftly and smoothly from one to the next that you’re a good way through the album before you know it. Second single Asylum passes by with a friendly nod, and then the bouncier Bedouin arrives, full of dub reverb and otherworldly vocal samples. Molten Love brings a tribal rhythm and some overwhelming chimes, along with some gentle pads, and of course the normal array of entirely bizarre vocal samples.

After the short piece Pi comes the longer S.A.L.T., with some Mancunian Satanic readings, apparently borrowed from a Mike Leigh film called Naked. Out of context, as all good samples on The Orb‘s works are, it makes relatively little sense, but makes for an entertaining listen nonetheless. After a brief sea shanty, it mixes into The Orb‘s biggest hit single to date.

Toxygene, it is said, started life as a remix of Jean-Michel Jarre‘s comeback single Oxygène (Part 8), which was rejected because it didn’t actually contain any of the original. This is easy to believe when you hear the mixes that did make it – they’re generally huge dance versions that remain fairly faithful to the piece, and great though The Orb are, that really isn’t why you employ them to remix your single.

But whatever the backstory, Toxygene is great, and is entirely deserving of its place as the centrepiece of this album. It’s also the only commercial-sounding thing on here, so you can’t help but feel it was probably a good thing all round that things ended up the way they did. For pretty much the only time in their career, The Orb deliver a huge synth-driven hit single, and it’s absolutely fantastic.

Then it’s back to the slightly loopy samples with the short Log of Deadwood, and then the longer Secrets, and then Passing of Time opens with another crazy sample, I’m guessing from a film (it sounds like a housing advert from the 1950s, until the nice man tells us “the rocket is waiting”). The resulting track is laden with grimy synths, but as with much of this album, is lacking a little in melody.

72 is just a short sample, with a hidden track a few minutes later, and then Orblivion draws to an end. For me, it’s not as good as subsequent album Cydonia, but it does have Toxygene, which is a pretty good reason to track it down – as a minimum everything else on here is a bonus, and you might even find something you like in amongst the rest.

You can still find the two-disc special edition of Orblivion at major retailers.

Chart for stowaways – 28 January 2017

Here’s the latest album chart:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3
  2. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group
  3. Dusty Springfield – Reputation
  4. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun
  5. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Trilogy
  6. David Bowie – Legacy
  7. Delerium – Mythologie
  8. Air – Twentyears
  9. David Bowie – Blackstar
  10. Shit Robot – What Follows

Grammy Awards 2017

Around this time of year, I usually like to put together a quick post summarising the Grammy Awards. Honestly, it’s a total nightmare – there are way too many awards in a myriad different categories, and I don’t really care all that much, but let’s see what we can see anyway…

First up, skipping straight to category #10, Best Dance/Electronic Album, where Jean-Michel Jarre was definitely robbed for Electronica 1: The Time Machine, and not even Underworld could grab it with Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future. Instead, it was taken by someone called Flume, with Skin.

Another veteran who didn’t make it this year was Vangelis, whose latest album Rosetta lost in the Best New Age Album category to White Sun‘s White Sun II.

There were some vague highlights in the Best Remixed Recording category, where Timo Maas turned up as a nominee, reworking Wings, but failed to win. Among the competition was Joe Goddard of Hot Chip, with a version of The Chemical Brothers‘ Wide Open, but that also failed to win.

There were some well-deserved wins for David Bowie in the Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Music Album and Best Recording Package and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical (whatever the heck that means) categories, all for Blackstar.

An honourable mention is surely due to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, whose latest album Walking in the Footsteps of Our Fathers didn’t quite grab the Best World Music Album, and finally, hats off to Dolly Parton, who with the help of Pentatonix won the Best Country Duo/Group Performance award for Jolene.

There’s a painfully long list here, if you want to find some highlights for yourself.