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Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

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Biography

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) embraced the synthesizer era of keyboard-driven pop perhaps more enthusiastically than any other band and came to symbolise that 1980s era of British music. Childhood school friends Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys formed various groups together in their teens in the 1970s before deciding to merge melodic pop with the denser, electronic mood music experiments being pursued by artists like Brian Eno and Kraftwerk. They had local success separately with The Id and Dalek I Love You, but it was when they united in OMD that their careers really took off.

Their first single 'Electricity' was released in 1978 and a support tour with Gary Numan the following year raised their profile, resulting in their breakthrough hit 'Enola Gay'. Their 1981 album 'Architecture & Morality' defined their highly original sound as they augmented synths with Mellotron and had further hits with 'Joan of Arc' and 'Maid of Orleans'. Their 1983 release 'Dazzle Ships' was something of a commercial flop and it led to the group redirecting their musical ideals into the more mainstream. Adopting their new sound, they achieved a top five single with 'Locomotion' in 1984 and were asked to pen a track for the John Hughes rom-com 'Pretty in Pink', for which they wrote 'If You Leave'.

After noticing a decline in their popularity, the group decided to split after their US tour in 1989. Three of the band's members - Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes - formed The Listening Pool while McClusky carried on performing under the OMD name. McClusky managed a number three hit with 'Sugar Tax' in 1991 and produced two albums - 'Liberator' in '93 and 'Universal' in '96 - but after McClusky decided to lay OMD to rest and focus on his songwriting for other groups.

In 2006, ten years after the final split, McClusky, Humphreys, Holmes and Cooper announced that they were reforming OMD under the original line-up. They embarked on a tour while working on new material, resulting in their 11th studio album 'History of Modern' which was released in 2010. The album broke into the top 30 in the UK Albums Charts and they capitalised on this success by following it up with 'English Electric' in 2013. 'English Electric' proved even more successful, managing the number 12 spot in the UK and number ten in Germany. Shock shook the band in 2014 when Holmes collapsed during a show in Toronto. Discovering he was suffering from heart failure, he announced his retirement from the band.

2016 saw them once again pen a song for film, with 'Thrill Me' featuring Gary Barlow, Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman for the film 'Eddie the Eagle'. Shortly after the film's release they revealed they were working on their next studio album, 'The Punishment of Luxury', which was released in 2017.

Artist biography compiled by BDS/West 10. All rights reserved