Paul Hartnoll – one half of ground-breaking electronic dance music duo Orbital – and controversial poet and performance artist Murray Lachlan Young announce their lockdown-inspired musical collusion album as ‘Hartnoll & Young’.
Harping back to The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, Flanders and Swan, the Pythons with a touch of Zen Buddhism thrown in, capturing the covid zeitgeist, “The Virus Diaries” is exactly that; a surreal and poignantly lighthearted wander, through the ever-shifting scene of the first lockdown.
The 15-track album, containing many perfectly produced examples of Electronica, D&B, Techno and Old Skool Electro, brings gleeful light to an otherwise dark scene. The result is a brilliant observation of Covid culture, a musically diverse diary of our recent times and a time capsule for the early Covid era.
“It was glaringly obvious to anyone, the last thing anyone needed was serious art. It doesn’t patronise, prescribe or instruct. It just tries to tell it like it was at the time.
The thing that went missing in lockdown #1 was fun and any sort of laughs. Everyone shut up shop and that is where we stepped into the void.“ Murray Lachlan Young.
The first fruits of their extraordinarily prescient collaboration initially dropped last year with the neo-apocalyptic techno inspired song – “I’m Going Shopping” released as an NHS Charities Together single. They went on to release a further string of singles that covered many aspects of mundane lockdown life.
‘I Need A Haircut’ was released in sync as a soundtrack and video to the nation’s barbers and salons throwing open their doors once again to an army of dodgy DIY trims and shaved heads.
Then came a tribute to the power of horticulture with their mental health boosting single ‘Garden Centre (Push The Trolley)’. A track that payed homage to those undervalued institutions, spotlighting them as one of the only options of escape during that whole tedious time.
Turning to 80’s hip-hop they distilled the terror and challenges of government enforced ‘Home Schooling’. This is an ode to 80s electro and early hip hop, with flashes of inspiration from Breakdance, Boogaloo, Grandmaster Flash and Herbie Hancock, coming with its very own blockbusting video.
With the compulsory instruction to continue to make a living whilst staying put they bring us ‘Working From Home’ and even the pure unadulterated excitement of ‘I’ve Got A Delivery Coming’ is included.
It is with this tackling of the humdrum aspects of life in lockdown that they draw humour, ‘pivoting’ the mood and bridging laughter in our ‘unprecedented’ times to use terminology that we are now more than familiar with.
This album will improve with age, you may not want to be reminded of the whole coronavirus world we now inhabit. I suspect, in time, these observations will be the memory jog of the things that history will leave behind and you will be left asking “what the fuck happened there?” Paul Hartnoll.
It is with all these brilliant reflections of our time that we can look back at the year that was, trying to seek out the positive aspects of our experience and feel something through humor. Ultimately, we hope it is a time that will never be repeated, especially as we look forward to the nation’s unlocking and a return to a version of normality.
2.Working From Home
3.Baking & Jogging
5.I’m Going Shopping
9.I’ve got a Delivery Coming
10.Garden Centre (Push The Trolly)
12.I Need A Haircut
13.I’ve Been a Little Bit Up and Down
14.Are We Nearly There Yet
Hartnoll and Young first met when they attended the infamous Wilderness Secondary Modern School in Sevenoaks, Kent. After leaving school in the mid 1980s, they independently became part of a local band scene and video arcade basement community that only ever spawned one four-track recording. The track never saw the light of day but many years later, just as the Covid-19 enforced lockdown kicked in, serendipity ensued when the pair got back in touch and found solace in a musical and lyrical collaboration that has naturally turned into an album, a Virus diary if you will, that charts the lockdown.