William Orbit
Pieces in a Modern Style
(Maverick, 2000)

William Orbit | Pieces in a Modern Style album cover

One thing many people missed about William Orbit when he was busy producing left-field LPs for Madonna (the universally acclaimed Grammy winner Ray of Light) and Blur (13) was the electronic musician’s first classical album, Pieces in a Modern Style. Largely overshadowed by a club-ready Ferry Corsten remix of Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings, the record applies Orbit’s ambient scalpel (see: his Strange Cargo series) to the century-spanning compositions of John Cage, Erik Satie, Henryk Górecki, Ludwig van Beethoven, Maurice Revel, and more.

One person you won’t find on here is Arvo Pärt. He was so furious about the inclusion of Fratres and Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten in a short-lived 1995 pressing (credited to The Electric Chamber) that it was immediately pulled and shelved for nearly five years. The delay actually worked in Orbit’s favor; 2000 was very much the height of the hype cycle surrounding “electronica” in the U.S., making these beat and synth-laced pieces a perfect fit for anyone into downtempo productions caught somewhere between a narcotic lullaby and waking dream.