By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Orbital is more about static riffs, loops and bleeps than sucker-punching listeners with aggressive beats and earth-quaking bass, the nerve centers of almost every techno song. They've gone from the dance-floor-driven, head-bobbing sound of the tight-knit indie community that made them, into elegant aural emanations no less intricate or demonic. The ingenious "The Box" three years ago was an honorary ambient anthem of almost orchestral proportions, with beautiful, endless layers of harpsichord and haunting piano. Their latest outing tries to be everything musically and technically, but functions more like a film soundtrack or a long, uninterrupted DJ set rather than a collection of distinguishable singles.
Trademark dissonant chords, perky keyboards and female moaning that wafts in and out make for eight tracks more reflective, relaxed and upbeat than the dark paranoia of In Sidesand Snivilisation. The chiming and sensual trumpet sounds of "Way Out" effortlessly meld into the swirling keyboards of "Spare Parts Express." The album's first single, "Style," is an appealing remix of bagpipes courtesy of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. All that lightness and lucidity, however, is brilliantly broken in "Know Where To Run"'s grinding, fuzzy guitar intro, and in "Nothing Left 1," an ultraworld of wacked chords like hideous laughter straight out of a mosque. (Siran Babayan)
Sorry Is a Five-Letter Word
Abby Travis felt really bad the day she learned that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris -- the two Columbine High School killers responsible for the tragedy in Littleton, Colorado -- liked a song she co-wrote during her stint with KMFDM so much that they posted the lyrics on their Web site.
"Someone sent me an e-mail of an AP wire that had the lyrics to 'Waste' in it, and I just freaked out," she says about the day of the killings. "At first it was bizarre. It didn't really register. I called Sascha [Konietzko], who's the figurehead of KMFDM. He said it had been the worst day of his life. Then he said, 'This isn't really about us, it's about the people who were injured and killed.'"
Wanting to help, Abby has put one of her own songs, "Sunday Is the Day for Love," up on the Web in MP3 format. She's asking that all who download it send $5 to the United Way Healing Fund set up for teen counseling and early-childhood education, among other things. Currently, the song is available at www.abbytravis.com and Wiredplanet, with hopes to get big sites like UBL and Amazon as hosts. A sweet and uplifting number with a luscious vibes solo by DJ Bonebrake, it's about as far afield from the hellish "Waste" as you can get.
But that versatility is typical of Abby's musical trek thus far. An accomplished and in-demand bass player, she began as a 16-year-old in the Lovedolls, followed by the Rails and on to jobs with Beck, Elastica, Spinal Tap, Michael Penn, Peter Tork, El Vez and Mommy. Abby describes her current solo project as "goth, cabaret, Kurt Weill, dark and beautiful."
Her KMFDM stint came about in 1997. "Pigface had sent me the video in '92, and there was this one guy, there's no way I'm going to get along with him. Here I am, this nice Jewish girl from L.A., and he's 6-foot-4, bald, lantern-jawed, Teutonic, Doc Martens up to his knees," she says of KMFDM's En Esch. "Then I met him at the Whisky or someplace, and he's 6-4 and Teutonic, all right, but he's also wearing eye makeup and pearls! We wound up jamming and became friends. They called me to do that Symbols record. I did a lot of background vocals, played some bass."
As for the lyric-writing process on "Waste," she says, "They have this affinity for five-letter words, like 'KMFDM.' The concept for the song was inspired by my friend Joe Cole, who was murdered about 10 years ago. He was this really funny guy who would always say, 'Oh, that's so wasty.' He'd use 'waste' as an adjective, verb or noun. So then I wrote these sort of existential lyrics.
"It's almost as if you design a hammer, and somebody takes that hammer and knocks someone over the head with it. You feel bad because they used your hammer. But you didn't intend for the hammer to be used as a weapon. That's the way I feel."
"Sunday Is the Day for Love" is available on MP3 at www.abbytravis.com; donations can be sent to The Healing Fund "Music Heals," c/o Mile High United Way, 2505 18th St., Denver, CO 80211.