Paul Hartnoll discusses the cover of Orbital’s new album, ‘Monsters Exist’…

After a summer-long build-up that has taken in a barrage of gigs, and an amusing social media campaign (the planet, in case you haven’t heard, is P.H.U.K.ed), the day has finally arrived – Orbital’s ninth album, Monsters Exist, is released today (14 September).

As die-hard Orbital aficionados (909originals included) will have noticed, the title of the album, as well as being a not-so-veiled reference to to the state of the world at the moment, nods to the award winning video for 1996’s The Box, where a stop-motion Tilda Swinton makes her way around a decaying city.

In fact, as we also noticed, the cover of the album isn’t a million miles away from In Sides, the album that featured that very same single. A more ‘notcurnal’ version, if you will.


Back in August, as you know, 909originals had the chance to speak to Paul Hartnoll (and Phil) for our ‘Postcards From 88’ series, and when chatting to Paul, we couldn’t help ourselves from asking… ignoring all the work that had been done in the intervening 22 years, is Monsters Exist a SEQUEL to In Sides?

“It’s not a sequel,” Paul explained, “but we have used the same artist (John Greenwood) on the cover.

“I like the continuation of collaborating with the same people; I like how things develop and change. John actually stopped painting for a while, to raise his kids, but he took it up again recently.

“I met him at a party last November and he showed me some pictures on his phone, one of which was the cover of the new album. Instantly, I went, I’ll have that!”

Greenwood also designed the iconic ‘Sony Walkman’ cover art for Snivilisation, and the new album gave the band the perfect opportunity to work again with their old pal.

“I talked to Phil and we decided – yes, John was to going to do the cover. It just fitted what we were trying to do with the album.

“To me, all music has a colour, it has a shape, and his artwork was definitely in line with what we were doing.”

As to the six-year gap (and second band ‘split’) between the last album and this one, Paul was a bit more, well, reticent. 🙂

“Why did we split up in the first place? Because my brother drives me mad, and drives me to the point where I can’t work with him anymore.

“Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great bloke, and the other night we went out to listen to Burt Bacharach. But as a business partner, he can be a complete shit! [Laughs]”

Was the previous ‘reunion’ a bit forced, we wondered?

“No, it wasn’t forced, but I made the mistake of expecting him to change! This time I haven’t made that mistake. I know what he’s like. There’s no surrender this time!”

As the saying goes, the path of true (brotherly) love never runs smoothly… 🙂

Monsters Exist can be ordered at Orbital’s official website. Live photos by Gavin Batty. Cover art by John Greenwood.

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