Life is about the build-up, right? Some cliched crap about slowly getting there I think. Which is fine and mostly true. When it comes to Orbital, a lot of the best stuff they did was build up.
For my money, the best 18-minute song in history - not 18-minute jam, or alternate take, but actual song - is The Decline, by NOFX. That thing is filled with peaks and valleys and all sorts ska and politics. When it comes to long form, in your headphones, just let it roll, though, there's nothing like a solid Orbital album.
I mention the NOFX track because the only song longer than that which I can listen to all the way through every single time I listen to it is the full 28-minute-long version of "The Box," Orbital's 1996 high water mark.
Cut into four parts, the track is really a lot more than build-up. There is melody, emotion, rhythm and, finally, vocals. In all truth, it's probably the pinnacle of electronic music. Orbital built their career on big, rolling beats and instrumentation about halfway between Victorian formality and clanging pots and pans. All of it, and I mean every single bit of it, lines up for the half-hour tantric orgasm that is "The Box."
Some versions of In Sides, which includes the first two sections of "The Box," included a bonus disc. That disc had two versions of the excellent guitar-driven track "Satan," two versions of their theme track to "The Saint," and a live version of "Halcyon."
"Halcyon" took on several forms over the course of Orbital's career: a rare original version; an album version on the self-titled "Brown" album; edited and remixed all over the place; and live.
The payoff to a haunting, beautiful, swirling thing like "Halcyon" comes on the live version. The whole thing is magic every time I listen to it.