William Orbit Pieces in a Modern Style

With time to kill before Madonna's next recording date, British producer William Orbit tries his hand at doing ambient interpretations of classical music, beginning with the 20th century and working his way back to Beethoven. The first piece, Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," has a perfume-like sensuality that unfolds at a blurry, but beautiful, pace. Orbit then takes the atmospherics a step further and brings out a peculiarly melodic side out of John Cage on "In a Landscape." The sounds are comforting on the ears, but by the time you get to the third track, "Ogive Number 1" by Erik Satie, things get to be too colourful for the senses and remains so for the rest of the disc. There's no denying Orbit's skill as producer, as many of the tracks here are here finely orchestrated and mixed. He also doesn't go the expected route of urbanising these works with break-beat cliches and hip-hop/techno samples, but still finds a way to inject them with clever rhythm parts (as is the case on Beethoven's "Triple Concerto" and Gorecki's "Piece in the Old Style 1"). But his ornamental designs are often too excessive, and one can't help feeling like trapped in an elevator where the walls of sound are closing in. This might be a treat for the fans who've come to know of him through Madonna, but the rest of us - classical as well as electronic music enthusiasts - will probably find the originals much more engaging. (Warner)