In retrospect, Orbital dissolved at the right time, just when their work began to sound aimless -- a big surprise, considering their music of the '90s was the most purposeful, inspired electronic dance produced during electronica's golden age. After five years out of the public eye (so to speak), plus another two years after their live reunion, comes their eighth regular LP, Wonky. Rejuvenated and relaxed, Paul and Phil Hartnoll return with help from Flood, not just one of the best producers active but one of the best electronic producers of the past 30 years. Orbital call this an electronic album, not a dance album, and it's true that the first half recalls the early '80s, with a wealth of analog electronics gear (both from the Hartnolls as well as Flood himself). The opener, "One Big Moment," is one of their best tracks since 1999's The Middle of Nowhere, and they invite American gothic muse Zola Jesus to provide vocals for "New France." More intriguing yet is the second half of Wonky, where a trio of joined tracks, majestic and acid-tinged, form a very conscious return to Orbital's style circa their 1990 landmark "Chime." The suite begins with the rather straightforward "Distractions," then peaks with the string-laden "Stringy Acid," and concludes with yet another aptly titled track called "Beelzedub" (perhaps a nod to 1991's "Satan"?). Much like Prodigy's return to their rave-era prime on Invaders Must Die, it feels a touch forced, but what remains clear is that the Hartnolls still have the ability to make magic more than 20 years after their debut. ~ John Bush
Magnet (p.57) - "Opening track 'One Big Moment' plucks some contemporary cues from chiptune's aesthetic, which recurs throughout the album, mostly in the up-front melodies."
Q (Magazine) (p.103) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "WONKY sounds refreshingly ageless. The clarity and melodic warmth of their arrangements always placed Orbital as heirs to Kraftwerk instead of just another techno act..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.87) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]heir signature melodies drive 'Never' and 'Where Is It Going?'....Opener 'One Big Moment' continues the brothers' tradition of sampling peculiar voices."