Orbital - Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song)

  • A pandemic rave track from Orbital that proves that the British legends still know how to make you dance, and then cry.
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  • British duo Orbital have always been known for capturing the sociopolitical context their music is being created in, albeit somewhat vaguely. In a 2018 interview with 909 Originals, one of the Hartnoll brothers, Paul, offered a glimpse into their thought process while making classics like 1992's "Impact (The Earth is Burning)": "Rather than making social comments, I suppose what we're doing is trying to put a score to the times we live in." It seems the brothers have taken a similar approach to responding to the pandemic on their tenth studio album, Optical Delusions. If their retrospective LP, which picked up mixed reviews, didn't quite land, "Ringa Ringa," makes up for any of its inadequacies. Hovering at just over four minutes, the track is a brief reminder of Orbital's gifts. Tracing back to the duo's roots, this is proper rave music that claims laser beams of crestfallen synths and shuffling breakbeats as its pulse. Fluttering atop this driving beat are the haunting melodies of music ensemble The Mediaeval Baebes, who coo the nursery rhyme "Ring a Ring o' Rosies"—commonly believed to have its origins in the Black Death, although this has been debated—throughout. Their vocals are swept up in a sedated haze, teetering the line of mystifying gloom and luminous beauty. Given that there aren't any other original lyrics, on paper this track shouldn't work as well as it does. But as Orbital has already exhibited long ago with one of their best tracks, "Halcyon And On And On", they have proven once again that capturing a feeling is often the best road to success.