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  Directed by
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  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Animated menus
  • DVD-ROM features

Orbital - The Altogether

Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 48 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Emerging in the late '80s with what has become a classic choon of the dance genre, Chime, Orbital have sustained a career in their chosen field whilst watching many of their contemporaries such as The Orb and The Shamen bugger off to obscurity. Formed by two brothers, Phil and Paul Hartnoll, in the ensuing ten years they released five albums, often changing styles markedly from year to year, yet which were always innovative and able to be appreciated without necessitating any intake of illegal substances.

Earlier this year came their sixth long-player, The Altogether, which is possibly their most eclectic, and also accessible, work yet. Anything but as one-dimensional as many 'artists' in the field (half of which are simply sad plonkers with an Atari ST, too much money for equipment and not enough talent to use it properly), Orbital's creativity even stretches to sampling the likes of Tool and The Cramps, and styles vary from standard four-on-the-floor DOOF to the quite lovely and ethereal to what could only be described as some sort of mutant techno-skiffle-DOOF.

So, here's the DVD accompaniment. Rather than just plopping some dodgy clips onto a little shiny disc and sending it off to market, Orbital decided upon taking a much more hands-on approach. They personally remixed all the tracks into 5.1, and went to the effort of having proper clips made for each song by proper directors, rather than just stuffing the disc full of those same old, same old tired swirly computer graphics usually associated with dance music.

Not even content with this extra effort, the decision was made to exploit functions of DVD few bother with, such as its multi-angle capability and ability to feature multiple soundtracks. But I'm getting ahead of myself - more on that stuff later!

So, the songs on offer are...

Tension - The album's storming DOOF-heavy opener, featuring all manner of dancing turntables and the like...

Funny Break - The first single, featuring a rather wet girl in a suitcase...

oi! - Sampling heavily, and cleverly, from Ian Dury's Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, this track has a gorgeous animated clip where a big little girl and a big little boy assail Paris...

Pay Per View - Be a fly on the wall as a guy makes a date - the kind you pay for...

Tootled - Oops, what did I say about swirly computer graphics back there? We'll forgive this little lapse then...

Last Thing - Proof that sparklers and super-flatulent bass can make good bedfellows...

Shadows - Be a fly in the air this time, in a clip eerily reminiscent of some from the early days of The Cure...

Waving Not Drowning - Visit the Play Factory kiddie TV show, and get taken on a tour of Disctronics to see how shiny little wonderdiscs are made...

Illuminate - Umm, it's snowing upwards, and all these little lights are flying around like Tinkerbell. Like, wow man!

"OK everybody, standby on the floor... ready? Flash the teddy and... ACTION!"

  Video
Contract

Those marvellous English strike again, with all vision presented to us in anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen. Bar the very occasional instance of minor shimmering, the vision we're given is exemplary. The only signs of grain or speckles are intentional in the clip for the track oi!, otherwise colour, detail, sharpness, contrast - everything - is all rendered quite wonderfully. 'Nuff said.

  Audio
Contract

Ooh, DOOF heaven! If you're after a disc to give your system a right good thrashing with, then look no further than this.

The album tracks are available in 5.1, DTS and also boring old Dolby Stereo. If you want the bog standard album sound then go for the Stereo mix, but if you're more adventurous and plump for the 5.1 or DTS mixes prepare to be launched into orbit around your home theatre. As intimated earlier in this review, the entire album was remixed into 5.1 especially by the band themselves and the attention to detail, as bits and pieces shoom all around you and the subwoofwoof goes feral, is simply breathtaking to behold. All manner of individual sounds jump out from left, right and behind you, and in all there's simply some brilliant use of directionality on offer here.

Arc it up to DTS and a certain extra punch becomes evident, which if unable to evoke an extremely wide grin should at least make you glad you invested in all that expensive gear. Seriously, you're neighbours will most likely think you've opened a dance club in your abode (hey, do I have the mirror ball in my kitchen, hmmm... I may have a cunning plan...)

In a nutshell, this disc simply has to be heard to be believed.

  Extras
Contract

Well, let's start with the easy stuff - the rather spooky menus are animated and sonically enhanced. At first glance it would appear that the disc contains simply nine tracks from the album The Altogether, complete with options to select your fave, play them all or even randomise them. Ah, but if you're adventurous an entire treasure trove of goodies awaits, even if they do require so many twists and turns to discover that Erno Rubik himself would no doubt be rather gobsmacked. What's even better is that they all feature 5.1 sound...

Doctor?: The Hartnoll Brothers' inspired take on what must rank as one of the greatest television themes in history (duh, Doctor Who!). Managing to remain faithful to the original, whilst channelling all the goods bits of Kraftwerk and adding a most tasty dance floor flavour, this 5:33 minutes is a treat - and beats The Timelords' '80s version across the bonce with a Very Big Stick. Oh, fiddle with the multi-angle button and you'll be presented with a photo gallery over top of the, gulp, swirly computer graphics.

Meltdown: No visual accompaniment other than the menu, however a 22-minute long bonus track is nothing to be sniffed at. This track was created especially for Scott Walker's Meltdown Festival, and is basically a raver's wet dream.

Tension Live: A live take on the album opener Tension, complete with your choice of video. Using the multi-angle button you can opt for either the standard clip, or be treated to the two manic Hartnoll slapheads doing their thang in a live setting.

Shadows: The same clip as in the main section of the disc, unless you opt for either of the two alternate angles. Each can be watched individually, or if you're feeling in a directorial mood you can flip between them.

Can't Won't: It's Play Factory time! Based around the track Waving Not Drowning, there are a plethora of options to toy with here. Various directions lead to the standard clip with three audio options - the song, the song and speech, or speech only; some behind the scenes outtakes with the option of music or speech; further outtakes with three audio options; the round window where you get the CD making part of the video with an optional, and rather silly, commentary; the arch window for a little song and dance number and finally the square window, with various snippets of audition footage also featuring three audio options.

Pay Per View: Choose the clip with standard audio, audio augmented by 'natural' sounds, or be indecisive and flip between the two with your 'audio' button. And then there's the entire six-minutes plus of the full commercials presented in virtual blipvert form within the clip. Often hilarious, you can check out the ChiWahWah guitar pedal, the more-than-a-shite-snack Manwich, the new LP of acapella stylings Menage A Neuf from The Nine Bob Notes, the high in moral fibre cereal Workflakes, the binary wonderland of Lab Chat (nerds need lovin' too donít you know!), Pearly Urchins, nail that sin with Atone-A-Phone, find the chicken within us where sitar meets country (and dancing chooks!) and finally It's Alright Son - for those times when you need nothing more than a calming bit of motherly advice.

So how do you find all this stuff? Well, the Easter Bunny has visited...

  Overall  
Contract

Finally we're given a music DVD that actually exploits more than just the 'play' button - and one that does it very well. With near perfect vision, earth shatteringly stunning sound and a veritable smorgasbord of extras for those who are willing to go exploring, The Altogether is truly a music DVD benchmark for all other comers to try to match. Game on!

Oh, the actual music isnít too bad, either...


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      And I quote...
    "The Altogether is truly a music DVD benchmark for all other comers to try to match..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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