27. Orbital, '20' (Rhino, 2009)
Paul and Phil Hartnoll named their group after the U.K.'s orbital motorways, the system of roads that provided a network of party spots for the early British rave scene. It's ironic, then, that Orbital were one of the first acts to push the beyond the confines of that scene, prizing composition and subtlety while striving to make great albums and put on stadium-ready live shows (their 1994 Glastonbury performance is one of the festival's most storied moments). This well ordered two-CD overview showcases the brothers' knack for gracefully curvy hooks: the feather-in-the-air figure at the heart of "Lush," the neon-videogame programming of "Omen," and "Chime," whose keyboard riff is boogie-woogie headed to Mars. And with tracks like "Belfast," "Impact – the Earth Is Burning" and the serenely contemplative "Are We Here (Who Are They?)" they confounded the notion that techno couldn't have content by pondering politics, the environment and humanity's role in society.
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