REVIEW: Paul Hartnoll – Eight Fifty Eight

8.58 is a moment of choice, it’s almost 9 o’clock. Are you going to school? Are you going in to that job you hate? Everybody faces that decision now and again. 8.58 am is when you’ve got to make up your mind.” 
Am I going to be truthful to myself or do I keep on battling on with Orbital?”
A direct quote from Paul Hartnoll himself.

In October 2014, the electronic super-duo known as Orbital, announced they are splitting for the last time. They had a five year hiatus from 2004 – 2009 and the brothers from Kent decided that they were going to continue separately in different musical directions.
Paul Hartnoll has just dropped his new album under the pseudonym ‘Eight Fifty Eight’’. The album is conceptual and pretty conventional; exactly the way Paul intended it to be. Collaborations from Hollywood actor Cillian Murphy (best known as the Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan’s adaptions of Batman) and The Cure’s Robert Smith make for a curious listen, albeit a very interesting one.
Hartnoll explains that Orbital‘s final album ‘Wonky’ was designed to be played out live. It has serious undertones and techno highlights, however as an album it was looking to be more compositional.
As you can probably imagine, clocks and time are key to the concept of the album. 8:58, the name of the project and the first track, was the time stuck on a clock face of a doodle that Paul did in his early teens.
Now, as the audience progresses through this album, bear in mind that this is what the artist wanted; eerie and experimental. Knowing that this album is a no holds barred musical exhibition is part of what makes it great. 
There is a spooky, almost motivational, speech which carries throughout referencing the theme of time, asking the audience questions about living in a space with no time restrictions.
The album evolves from sounding like a film soundtrack (Track 6 -A Forest ft The Unthanks) to planting itself in a 90’s techno rave (Track 8 – Nearly there). This would usually lead you to believe it’s a compilation rather than a studio album. This is down to the amount of collaborations and allowing the collaborators leave their mark on the songs.
Overall a fantastic conceptual album, and great to see an artists realise what they want to do and pursue it (props to you Zayn Malik).  This is available now via ACP Recordings and you can catch Eight Fifty Eight live on 14 May at London 02 Shepherds Bush.
In reference to the last second of the last track – Cemetery ft Fable: Times up.
Written by Mark Campion