NORMAN COOK AKA FATBOY SLIM HAS REVEALED THE arcane methods hy which he comes tIp with hook-heayy floor— fillers like ‘Rockafeller Skank' and ‘l’raise You‘. .’\pparent|y Zoe Ball‘s hetter half goes out cltthhing till the wee small hours. staggers hack home completely out of his face. hits the sack for three hours. springs otit of hed while still hopelessly drttnk. trawls through his massiye record collection until he finds a few things he likes. sticks the hest hits together. then goes to sleep again. lley presto! A .\'umher ()ne hit hefore you can say 'funk soul hrother’.
'l'his inehriated approach is anathema to the two dance acts who could eonceiyahly end l-‘athoy Slim‘s domination of the charts. ()rhital and l'nderworld. two giants of techno who haye crossed oycr into the mainstream. will soon release new material and play Scottish shows. Both acts make music which. while still tagged ‘dance’. has Very little in common with the hcered-up party tttnes of Norman (‘ook and hig heat.
()rhital are not in any way opposed to the odd snifter. httt they make music which sounds like the work of yery soher. serious men. The 1996 In Sir/m alhtun and in particttlar the .\lorricone-esque single "l‘he Box‘. showed that here was an act who cottld carye dark moods and atmospheres out of crisp. clinical sounds. ()rhital are one of the strangest. most indiyidual outfits working in Britain today and what‘s men more amazing is that they are a massiye commerical hit. Their last two singles hoth went to .\'umher Three and they
consolidated this success with a triumphant eyent right in the heart of establishment Britain a gig at the Royal .-\lhert llall.
Now they are anxiously preparing to release the first fruits of
their recent efforts.
‘I get a hit weird when I record music. I'm like a ('atholic whipping myself on the hack.. laughs l’hil llartnoll. one of two hrothers who make up ()rhital. ‘l’aul’s a lot more positiye. httt I always haye to go through this exorcism of worry. We can't help it if people don’t enjoy our music and I always find it difficult to face that fact. I spend a month after we finish an alhttm going "Oh no. nohody will like it! This is the end!”
Still. a genuine fear of audience reaction hasn‘t stopped ()rhital going ahead and pleasing themselyes anyway. New
single ‘Style‘ will he followed hy an alhtnn. 'I'lu' .llirlrl/v (If
.\'uu‘/u’n' which yeers insanely from electro to techno to thrash metal to offheat samples. It's like nothing else around and doesth make a whole lot of sense on paper. hut when you hear it the whole package falls into place.
'I can imagine myself sitting in the middle of nowhere with headphones on and the alhtun playing] says l’ltil. ‘l’ina (‘olada in one hand. stm tan oil in the other. and not haying any yisttal distractions from the music.‘
It‘s strange that the llartnolls should play down the importance of \‘isuals in their work hecause their liye shows hayc always heen spectacular. 'l'heir (ilztslolthtll‘y performance of I‘M}
an aurora horealis of lasers. strohes and film collages can he regarded as the point when a rock audience first ‘got’ dance music. while a penchant for playing on top of scaffolding platforms has ensured enduring \ isual impact.
What’s more. ()rhital haye hegun repositioning themselyes as composers of film music. 'l'heir song ‘l’etrol’ was ttsed in Darren .'\ronofsky‘s recent conspiracy theory/numerology film l’i. where it proyidcd a hysterical accompaniment to the paranoia on screen. :\ collahoration with Michael Kamen on the score for lire/i! Harlin/1 was less successful. httt plans are in place to heconte more inyolyed in this area. ‘l‘m not a musician. httt I don‘t know what to call my self. so composer comes closest.' laughs l’hil with mock pomposity. '.\1ayhe”soundsculptor".
()rhital will he sculpting sound all oyer Britain in a March tour which marks their tenth anniyersary of proying that electronic music played liye can sound exciting and spttlllilllc‘tms.
'l‘m always surprised hy how successful w e'ye hecomc.‘ says l’hil. '\\'hen we started. I thought it would last for ahout a
year and I should enjoy it while I could. Well. I'm still enjoyng it now. so this tour will he a eelehration for us.‘
Against the odds. l'nderworld should also he tip for a party. l’rontman and lyricist Karl llyde. who has always stay ed away from the narcotic pleasures of the cluh scene. is a rccoyering alcoholic who had to learn to write while soher for their forthcoming third alhtun. I)’('(lll('()ll/) l-‘is/i. .'\ painfttl irony for the man whose 'Born Slippy" gaye the world a new closing-time chant in ‘lager. lager. lager. shouting'. Bttt llyde does haye reason to celehrate the new l'nderworld material has not suffered for the lack of luhrication in its grooyes. It may still he early days. hut llyde. along with hand-mates Rick Smith (progrannning) and Darren limerson (l).ling). has come up with a strong contender for alhttm of the year.
While its magnificent predecessors l)l(/)II()/)(l.\’.\‘H'll/IlllY- /I(’(l(/HI(HI and Second Yong/test In The Iii/tum distilled elements ofelectronic suh-genres into an atmospheric pop hrew. Beauvoir/i l-‘is/i is a lot more consistently full-on. l-‘rom the throhhing. dtthhy sophistication of twelye-minute opener '(‘upsK which features a measured llyde Vocal fed through a yocoder. to the shuddering teclmo stomp of new single ‘l’ush l'pstairs‘ and the (iiorgio—Moroder-craled-on-saki of cluh hit 'King Of Snake‘. this is a remarkahle record which weighs in at a formidahlc 7-1 minutes. There‘s no ohy'iotls 'Born Slippy“ here. hut the chunky hrcakheats and scratching of 'Bruce l.ee‘ could well hecotne a high point of their liye set.
Still. for all the claustrophohic. paranoid feel that cltaracterises B(’(lll('()ll]) I’M/I and The .llit/d/v (IlﬂVuu'ln'n'. mayhe these moody l).ls haye more in common with the uninhihited hedonism of hig heat than we might at first think. ()rhital. after all. sample .lu/m (lure/1's .\'cu'.smtuu/ on new track ‘Spare Parts lixpress’. while l'nderworld‘s soundtracks to ttrhan decay ‘Born Slippy" and ’l’earl‘s Girl are named alter greyhounds.
‘I can understand why people think we‘re po-faced.‘ say s l’hil llartnoll. “We get lumped in with that whole sterile. rohotic. non- emotional. logical thing. To he honest. though. a lot of the electronic fraternity are a hit fttckittg serious. They like a laugh. httt they wouldn't dare show it hecause they're too cool. But. fttck it. we‘ye got a sense of humour and we don’t care who knows ll.’
liathoy Slim might just hate some competition.
Beaucoup Fish is released by V2 on Mon 1 Mar; Underworld play Glasgow Barrowland on Thu 4 Mar. 'Style' is released by FFrr on Mon 1 Mar; The Middle Of Nowhere follows on Mon 5 Apr; Orbital play Glasgow Barrowland on Mon 22 Mar.