Listenable Dance Music

Halcyon+on+on – Orbital from Orbital 2

Orbital made some of the most beautiful “dance” music you’ll ever hear.  When you think of dance music you might think of a pulsing beat and some shouted loop of vocals exhorting the crowd to move what they’re momma gave ’em.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, I like that music too.  But, here Orbital starts off quiet, with a bit of piano and a soaring synth sound, adding in delicate vocals, then layering in a beat around the 2 minute mark, then it all gels together and gathers steam.  The vocals drop out for a bit to give you a good dose of the beat, then they come back in.

The vocal sample is a backwards recording of Kirsty Hawkshaw from a popular song at the time Orbital recorded their song.  The vocals, since its backwards, aren’t really saying anything, but Orbital does a fantastic job of making the sounds of her voice an integral part of the song.  They run different snippets of the vocal over each other to great effect.  Her voice is beautiful, and the adds to the  dreamlike vibe of this song.  Orbital proves here you can make an electronic music piece that is an amazing composition of music that you can shake your ass to.  I know they aren’t the only ones to do this, but this is the gold standard of listenable dance.

I also rated a live version of this song with five stars as well.  That version is even more incredible to me, as it has a breakdown about 6 minutes in that starts with Bon Jovi’s Shot Through The Heart and mixes in Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place on Earth, eventually giving Belinda the same backmasking treatment they gave Ms. Hawkshaw.  How they came to put these vocals together is a mystery to me, but the result is magic.

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