In Sides by Orbital. 1996
With some music it may only take the first few bars of the track, they somehow just sink into your soul and before you know it you’re hooked. Others can sometimes be more of a slow burner that takes time and a multitude of listens for it all to sink in. Whereas some music no matter how hard you try just does not sit right in your ears and will never get your toes tapping or your hips swinging.
I had one such song get into my head from the moment I heard it used on Channel 5 for a TV promotion of a Canadian Sci-fi show called L.E.X.X. which suited the music perfectly as images of spaceships, aliens and planets exploding helped add some visual stimulation to the audio stimulating that was already going on due to the music. As soon as I heard it I became obsessed with finding out what the name of the song was and more importantly who it was so that I could listen to more of their material.
Many moons later a friend of mine at the time had a party to celebrate his parents being away for the weekend, a regular occurrence in my social circle when I was fifteen and during the festivities the song in question was played. I immediately went over to my friend and asked what was playing and after a confab with the pile of cassette boxes he found the one in we were looking for. He told me that the Album for called In Sides and it was by a group called Orbital but he could not tell me the name of the song as he only had a copy with no track listings. I was one step closer to finding out the name of this song that had been banging around in my head.
My next step was getting some money together so that I could go buy the album so I did what any reasonable level headed person would do and only spent half of my dinner money every day for the next month. Now whether having a lunch diet of chocolate bars and crisps at one of the most important times in my body’s growth was a good idea remains to be seen as I think going out and getting a job would have been a much smarter option, but I was not the brightness throughout my adolescence. Not having a decent diet I would imagine contributed to that. But I did manage to get the money together and at the end of the month I went looking for it.
Searching high and low throughout my local record shop Ian’s Music I could not seem to find the album. Finally I got tired of looking so I asked at the counter if they had it but found out that it was out of stock so I asked them to order it in for me. I was told it would take a week for the CD to come in which at the time crushed me, being so close and yet still having to wait, but after months of waiting what was one more week? A week passed, money was exchanged and a CD of In Sides by Orbital became my property.
It is a great feeling when a song that has been in your head bugging you for months finally has its name revealed to you. I think that I listened to The Box Part 2 on repeat for an entire evening. Once I had got that out of my system I had a listen to the rest of the album and was blown away.
Where to start with what I like about this album? I guess for a start it is the fluidity of the album that impresses me as from track to track it flows delivering one fine piece after another. After listening from start to finish I felt bad for skipping straight to The Box Part 2 upon first playing it as the album works so well in the order it is in and by jumping straight to track 4 I may have ruined the original playing a touch. That aside it was still an amazing experience. Also, the way that Orbital delivers their music could almost be called orchestral as songs will slowly build up to a crescendo before fading out into silence. Their material has an elegant way of not finishing how it has started with some people calling them long winded but I myself rarely notice the duration of each track as I get lost in them.
By far the best way to enjoy the album is through a decent pair of earphones, preferably sound excluding ones, so that you can really take in all the sounds and get a real good feeling for each track as well as listening to how the album flows. But equally it is music that can be played through a stereo, I just find earphones preferable.
Being taken on a journey each time I listen to the album in its entirety is one of the main reasons I love it as my mind drifts off to places that only I will ever see. It is an album that I will listen to while I type out the inane nonsense that filters out of my mind onto this page, an album that I cannot describe in any way than inspiring.
In short, get hold of a copy, have a listen, preferable using a good pair of earphones and hopefully it will change your perception on things and give you the feeling of escapism that it gives me. It is a massive influence on my musical history and was a doorway into an area of Electronica music that still has high status in my opinions.