“I thought that was quite an achievement: taking the stylophone, bringing it downstairs, plugging it into the sampler and saying, ‘Right, I can only make sounds out of this.’ I was very pleased with the results of that.”

That’s Paul Hartnoll of Orbital, talking about the track Style, which was released as a single on 8 March 1999, and was  – as far as we know – the only Top 20 single in history to feature a stylophone as its central instrument (although we suspect Kraftwerk may have got there first).

The closing track on 1999 album The Middle of Nowhere, the track was a live favourite of the group at the time, where it was typically mixed with Bigpipe Style, a version of the track that features Scottish bagpipes playing the main riff.

Indeed, the group’s New Years Eve 1999 set at Pier Head in Liverpool, which featured the track Chime counting down the seconds into the new Millennium, featured Bigpipe Style as its closing track.

Bigpipe Style, incidentally, samples Suzi Quattro’s 1974 single Devil’s Gate Drive – the opening vocal refrain rather than the music itself.

“Did they really? I had no idea! I’ll have to Google that. I missed that,” as Quattro told the NME in 2019.

The original Style, meanwhile, borrows a portion from a version of Erasure’s track Oh L’amour, performed by Dollar – who also make a guest appearance in the accompanying video (clips of the Oh L’amour video are seen on the television) – meaning, we presume, that David Van Day and Thereza Bazar-led outfit gave their approval to the Hartnoll brothers.

The blurred cover photograph on the single was taken by Louise Kelly, Paul Hartnoll’s wife, who also did the cover shots for Nothing Left, Beached, and The Middle of Nowhere album.

As for the video? Paul Hartnoll has commented previously that The Middle of Nowhere is a continuation of the sound that the group had developed for the Brown Album – meaning you could put Snivilisation and In Sides “to one side”.

But the video for Style definitely takes its cue from the short film to accompany The Box, the lead single from In Sides, with its stop-motion approach – both, after all, featured Luke Losey on production detail.

Read more: Orbital’s ‘The Box’ – the story behind the iconic video

With a decidedly Kafka-esque theme (note the portrait on the bedside table!) – it’s one of the best, and perhaps most overlooked videos in Orbital’s repertoire, if you ask us, featuring an adventurous beetle embarks on a seriously trippy adventure through an apartment block.

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