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Paul Hartnoll - The Ideal Condition

Paul Hartnoll, The Ideal Condition

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

PAUL Hartnoll’s debut solo album The Ideal Condition is, by his own admission, a deliberate departure from the sound of Orbital (of which he formed one important half).

It still contains a cinematic sweep but it now features acoustic instrumentation alongside the trademark electronic sounds.

“It’s got a lot of film influences on it,” Hartnoll explains. “All the old favourites are there – the Michael Nymans, the John Barrys, Ennio Morricone – and you can hear a lot more of Danny Elfman on this one, I think.

“But it still finds its way back to the rhythm. I’m always trying to find a harmonic or melodic narrative.”

Evidence of this can be found on stunning album opener Haven’t We Met Before, which teases, tantalises and expertly enthralls with its expert blend of electronics and cine-referencing.

Opening with a flurry of electronic chords and some enchanting flutes that hint at both the epic grandeur of Morricone and the slightly more twisted vibe of Elfman, it then drops a contemporary beat that works effortlessly in tandem with some of its more classical touches.

Come the inclusion of choral female vocals, it’ll have you utterly hooked and pining to discover more about Hartnoll’s new direction.

Cleverly, however, he refuses to become pigeon-holed and drops a number of songs that feature guest vocals from eye opening names.

The most prominant, of course, is The Cure’s Robert Smith, who helps to ensure that Please emerges as a firm highlight. The singer’s “whiney-bendy” voice works nicely in tandem with the slick beats and electronics that ensure the track is both radio-friendly and neatly tailored towards the leftfield dance scene.

The chorus, especially, is nicely delivered and a real grower.

Elsewhere, there’s plenty to admire and even rave about. South London singer Akayzia Parker lends her smooth, seductive, soulful and yet fragile vocals to the mid-tempo Nothing Else Matters – the type of song that’s certain to appeal to fans of Tracey Thorn’s work. The swirling strings are a real treat throughout.

And Joseph Arthur’s haunting delivery is perfectly suited to Aggro, another of the songs that immediately impress.

Of the instrumentals, Patchwork Guilt contains some thrilling moments that have already been picked out by the likes of Radio 1’s Zane Lowe as evidence of Hartnoll’s continued excellence as a music creator, while The Unsteady Waltz – like its name suggests – is an awkward yet completely endearing romantic interlude that could easily have been written for the soundtrack of an unfinished romantic film.

And final track Dust Motes is another strong offering that reflects Hartnoll’s penchant for cinema, slow-building its way beautifully to a wondrous finale.

The Ideal Condition therefore works as both a rousing progressive dance album and a satisfying piece of cinema-themed chillout that succeeds in catering for all manner of tastes. It’s both inspired and enchanting.

Download picks: Haven’t We Met Before, Please, For Silence, The Unsteady Waltz, Nothing Else Matters, Aggro, Dust Motes

Track listing:

  1. Haven’t We Met Before
  2. For Silence
  3. Simple Sounds
  4. Please
  5. The Unsteady Waltz
  6. Nothing Else Matters
  7. Patchwork Guilt
  8. Aggro
  9. Dust Motes

  1. THIS ALBUM IS A BIG MISTAKE. Sounds like Enigma. No worth buying.

    Cononel    Jun 8    #