Record Review - 3 October 03 2001

For those who've seen British electronic duo Orbital live, the image engrained in the memory is likely to be a playful one. The brothers Hartnoll — who named their group after the circular London highway off which illegal raves were run — bounce and pounce behind their equipment, lights affixed to their heads, which bob energetically. So it's appro- priate how playful their music has recently become.

Former albums were either long and exploratory or dark and introverted, but always wrapped up in the Hartnoll's personal world. The Altogether, though, seems to take some cues from what's happening outside the dimly lit studio. On The Altogether, Orbital plays with friends as it makes playful references to pop culture. The brothers twist Tool samples on "Tootled" and tweak out the theme to seminal British sci-fi show "Dr. Who" much in the way they did the theme to The Saint a few years back. They throw in chants from "Surfin' Bird" and melodies from "The Twilight Zone." Singer/songwriter David Gray — a relative of the Hartnolls by marriage — guests on "Illuminate."

For the most part, Orbital is delving into happy memories instead of looking toward the future. So while The Altogether may be the band's most accessible album to date — no 25-minute, nor many 10-minute, songs here — it's not their most innovative, mind-blowing or altogether different.

Orbital plays EarthLink Live Fri., Oct. 5.??