This week, Orbital released the music video for their new single “Are You Alive?”. From the seminal electronic music duo’s forthcoming album Optical Delusion, out February 17, the track features Penelope Isles. Long-time collaborator Luke Losey directed the video, which stars Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter. Here’s the video.
“Are You Alive?”. This follows the BBC6 Music playlisted single “Dirty Rat” featuring Sleaford Mods, as well as “Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song)” featuring The Mediaeval Baebes.
“Are You Αlive?”. adds to the Orbital product range of existential questions (‘Are We Here?’, ‘Where Is It Going?’) in collaboration with Bella Union signings Penelope Isles, AKA brother and sister act Lily and Jack Wolter, who are originally from the Isle of Man but, like Orbital, are now based in Brighton. “They’re our studio mates, they work upstairs!” says Paul Hartnoll. “And they’ve both got amazing voices.”
“Are You Alive came about when I had the instrumental and felt it could do with a delicate vocal,” Paul continues. “Enter Penelope Isles! They took it away and Lily came up with some killer hooks, we spent a day rearranging the song and Hey Presto! Are You Alive was born. But don’t be fooled by the sweetness of the sound, the lyrics have some bite. It’s a dog-eat-dog world…”
The origins of the song come from a 6Music project called ‘The Virus Diaries’ that Paul did with his old schoolmate, the poet Murray Lachlan-Young. Every Wednesday the two had to deliver a track; this one was originally called “Garden Centre”. Then Paul began to wonder what it would be like with sung vocals. Lily Wolter’s lyrics developed it into a haunting breakup song and it grew into a gorgeous musical box melody – all the poignancy of the last few years in one place.
Their 10th studio album, Optical Delusion, explores our increasingly surreal and disordered world with a deeper psyche. Partly recorded during lockdown, but fully recorded in the uncertain After Times, the album recalls conflicting emotions and beguiling images from recent times, when the science fiction doomsdays they watched on TV as kids became reality.
Orbital Optical Delusion – Track List:
01 Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song) (feat. The Mediaeval Baebes)
02 Day One (feat. Dina Ipavic)
03 Are You Alive? (feat. Penelope Isles)
04 You Are The Frequency (feat. The Little Pest)
05 The New Abnormal
06 Home (feat. Anna B Savage)
07 Dirty Rat – With Sleaford Mods
08 Requiem For The Pre Apocalypse
09 What A Surprise (feat. The Little Pest)
10 Moon Princess (feat. Coppe)
A new album from two brothers who stayed at the top of their game longer than anyone from the post-1988 Acid House class is the latest in a spate of renewed post-pandemic creativity. Earlier this year an Orbital thirtieth anniversary package 30 Something – featuring reinterpretations of “Chime”, “Satan”, “Belfast” and more by fans ranging from Jon Hopkins to ANNA to David Holmes, plus studio versions of Orbital live favourites – reintroduced Paul and Phil Hartnoll to a worldwide fanbase.
In the Spring, Orbital will embark on the Optical Delusion UK headline tour.
ORBITAL UK TOUR 2023
March 28 Glasgow SWG3
March 29 Newcastle NX
March 30 Manchester Albert Hall
March 31 Bristol O2 Academy
April 1 London Eventim Apollo*
April 5 Leeds O2 Academy
April 6 Cambridge Corn Exchange
April 7 Nottingham Rock City
April 8 Brighton Centre