For Immediate Release, February 1, 2023— Orbital have today released “Are You Alive?” Featuring Penelope Isles, the third track to be taken from the seminal electronic music duo’s forthcoming album Optical Delusion, out February 17.
The new track follows the BBC6 Music playlisted lead single “DirtyRat”, an incendiary collaboration with Sleaford Mods, and “RingaRinga(TheOldPandemicFolkSong)” featuring The Mediaeval Baebes (“The duo have transformed a creepy nursery rhyme into a dancefloor filler” Evening Standard.)
“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 a gorgeous musical box melody – all the poignancy of the last few years in one place.
With Optical Delusion, their 10th studio album, Orbital dig deeper into the unquiet psyche of our increasingly surreal and disordered world. Sketched out partly during lockdown but fully recorded in the uncertain After Times, the album summons up conflicting emotions and beguiling images from recent times, when the science fiction doomsdays that the Hartnoll brothers watched on TV as kids finally came true.
The new album is the latest in a burst of renewed post-pandemic creativity for two brothers who’ve stayed at the top of their game longer than anyone from the post-1988 Class of Acid House. 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.
Internationally renowned for their incredible live show, Orbital will embark on the Optical Delusion UK headline tour in the Spring.
Orbital Optical Delusion – Track List:
01 Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song) (feat. The Mediaeval Baebes)