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    The Orb

    Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld 9 ( 1991 )
    Little Fluffy Clouds / Earth (Gaia) / Supernova at the End of the Universe / Back Side of the Moon / Spanish Castles in Space / Perpetual Dawn / Into the Fourth Dimension / Outlands / Star 6 & 7 8 9 / A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld

    It's 1991 and the house boom is in full swing, rave parties up and down the country - 1988, a 'year zero' for the new generation. But, what do you do when the party finishes, or is winding down?? The Orb defined the stuff called chillout or comedown music, 'Ambient House' - they practically invented it. Before Aphex Twin, Orbital. Before anybody else was really spoken of in the music press, there was The Orb. Comprising of Alex Paterson and a changing group of collaborators, 'Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld' does something clever, and it's still clever today, over ten years on. It mixes Pink Floyd, Eno, Ambient, samples - the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Alex Paterson, a former Killing Joke roadie, a former A and R man for Brian Eno's record label. That last job must have been quite interesting. I mentioned Pink Floyd, and Orb fans at the time were generally 18-24 years of age, so not 'original' Pink Floyd fans, although many of this youthful set did love classic Pink Floyd. The Orb stepped into a place in their hearts, how many of these fans imagined a 21st Century Pink Floyd should sound like. Song titles such as 'Back Side Of The Moon' were a dead giveaway, but the album doesn't need such touches or reminders, the music here is blissful, otherworldly. A masterpiece, basically.

    A cock crows to start this double CD album. The nineteen minute long closing track mixes in this cock crowing, 'loving you' by Minnie Ripperton and lots else besides. For these two tracks alone, this album is stunning and I shall explain. 'Little Fluffy Clouds'? "Over the past few years, to the traditional sounds of an english summer.... What were the skies like when you were young.... the skies were always like little fluffy clouds..." etc, etc. The beats come in and 'Little Fluffy Clouds' is perfect. The 'Flash Gordon' movie is sampled for the beginning of 'Earth', the beats are cool and... I don't know. How do you describe 'beats' anyway?? The mixing in of samples, not just Flash Gordon, but birdsong, various other noises - throughout the track?? It really adds to it. The use of samples, new-age samples alongside various trivia and real life voices - is masterful, across the album as a whole. "And the mountains shall drop sweet wine and the hills shall melt", repeated and repeated, onwards and onwards - then funk over the ambient, noises and spookiness and glorious, fantastic music. The entire album is a trip. I don't want to sound like some drooling old hippie, but Al Brooks should love this stuff. Hiya Al. Don't know who Al Brooks is?? Read some pages on the site apart from this one, his name will pop up in places. But seriously, yeah, this album is a trip.

    The thing that gets me, that really gets me, is that every single track here is strong. It's not just about 'Little Fluffy Clouds' and 'Huge Ever Growing Brain', although those two are clear highpoints. The bits inbetween are just as fine, and how many ambient/dance/house records can you say that about?? The songs/tracks weave together, flow into one another, each one usually begun with samples or spooky atmospherics. It works. A wash of sea opens the closing track. Spooky sounds and heavenly vocal noises, an atmosphere is built up. When the 'loving you' vocal comes in, it just sends shivers all over me. When the cock crows you're winded right back to the beginning, to the opening of 'Little Fluffy Clouds' and it plays with your mind. You don't even need drugs, this is music for people that don't want to take drugs, music enabling them to experience the same pyschedelic acid-dream thrills. Floating beautifully - listen to this, it will take you somewhere.

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    Readers Comments

    Conor doylereacts@aol.com
    people who take drugs love orb too.

    Simon B slb23@shaw.ca
    I must admit this album is really REALLY influential, but only about 4 or 5 songs are intersting to me. It has some really cool samples, and beats.

    spartacus weaselsrippedmydrums@yahoo.com
    i wanna thank you for this review, first off. i stumbled across this review out of curiousity, and the way u described it really made me feel like somethin that i wanted to check out. talk about amazing! this album is extremely creative. i dont really listen to techno stuff at all (although i wouldnt exactly label this as hardcore techno), but this album really appealed to me. keep up the good work!

    U.F. Orb 8 ( 1992 )
    O.O.B.E. / U.F. Orb / Blue Room / Towers Of Dub / Close Encounters / Majestic / Sticky End

    Dr Alex Patterson, creative leader of The Orb decided to play a game with the organisation that run and compile the UK top forty singles charts. There was a little known rule. A qualifying single could be no more than 40 minutes long in total. The Orb stretched this rule, releasing a single consisting of just the one song, lasting the full 40 minutes. It always disappointed me that the album version is less than half the length the two part single version was! Anyway, japes over, I suppose. You see, 'U.F.Orb' isn't quite the album the groundbreaking 'Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld' was. It has moments, enough of them, but never quite makes it. I miss the samples. The lack of plentiful samples here compared to their debut means there's generally less going on to hold your attention. The opening 'O.O.B.E' uses samples very well, though. They come in amid a wash of atmospheric ambient noise. The album title song ditches the samples and goes into ambient house territory. Utilizing fairly ordinary sounding beats, this title song is a definite step away from the playful and inventive nature of the majority of the groups debut. I've already mentioned my disappointment with the album version of 'Blue Room' and it's a disappointment that persists. Oh, once the track gets going, it's a fine, mind-bending Orb trip, but sometimes don't you just wish the group had included the whole 39/40 minute long version of the track? Now that really was really a trip, and a marvellous concept, too.

    The album reaches a highpoint with the arrival of 'Towers Of Dub'. It opens with a pretty funny fake telephone call, even the effects placed on the voices are funny. The song then goes off on a suitably dub trip, heavy bass lines, lots of sounds surrounding them. Little tinkling sounds, samples mixed in. 'Towers Of Dub' is fifteen minutes long and stands alongside the best of 'Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld'. More ambient house for 'Close Encounters' and The Orb start to sound more ordinary, venturing into that particular territory, a territory that an abundance of other acts had already started to crowd into. 'Majestic' continues with this, such songs appearing here do mean that 'U.F.Orb' is possibly a more approachable album than the daunting two hour long 'Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld', but I persist to maintain that it means this second LP outing is less special and unique as a result. The closing 'Sticky End' is fifty seconds of 'sticky' sounding noises. Overall, the album has a good flow to it. It does maintain the feel that you're having trip, a good one. Blissfully tripping out, lazing and floating through the air. But, not enough. Not quite enough, anyway. The expectations were already proving to be a burden.

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    Readers Comments

    Eric Shreve 914mks@sbcglobal.net
    does anyone happen to know where the whole "cloud/claude nine/ brother getting busted for pot/hillbilly sheriff smoking his weed & letting him go" comedy bit is from? a movie or comedy album ide say...im super nerdy on that stuff and have been looking for years. any help or leads much obliged.ORB MASSIVE!

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    a record for those who enjoy the bong - when the bass kicks in its joyous stuff - the best scifi,dub,prog,ambient,electro album ever made . It brings back a lot of great memories .......

    Pomme Fritz 6 ( 1994 )
    Pomme Fritz / More Gills Less Fishcakes / We're Pastie To Be Grill You / Banger N Chips / Alles Ist Schoen / His Immortal Logness

    Doesn't the tracklisting indicate a certain food-theme for the third Orb LP? Well, technically this is either an EP or a mini album, whichever you prefer. I prefer to call it an album because it's as long as an album is supposed to be. Forty one minutes and thirty three seconds split over six tracks, as opposed to 'Blue Room being one song lasting forty minutes. Ah, those zany orb fellows with their zany titles and crazy ideas! Let's face it. The odd chuckle here and there is fine, but too many dance/electronica acts go too far with the ridiculous song titles and crap concepts. 'Pomme Fritz' arrived at a crucial juncture in the career trajectory of The Orb. Were they going to go back to the delights of 'Adventures' or continue down the path of 'U F Orb'? Were they going to come back with something else entirely different instead? The answer is that 'Pomme Fritz' is a great-weird chillout album in the same manner 'Adventures' was, only with far less samples, eg, in the fashion of 'UF Orb'. Kind of an exact cross between the two, only somewhat watered down and weaker than either. After the pleasant and goodly good title track, the album goes off somewhat across several experimental areas. The second and third tracks have good chillout ambient moments but also huge stretches where nothing much appears to be happening at all. Fourth song 'Banger N Chips' is slightly better in that we've got something actually going on, an interesting pattern of beats and grooves, although not warranting seven, nearly eight minutes length.

    'Alles Ist Schoen' would work within the context of a better album to breakup louder moments, shall we say. Here, it just sounds quite nice. That's all, that's it. The final track is a two minute stretch of grin inducing novelty that ultimately wears thin and that's it. By calling this an EP, it can easily be dismissed. You know, 'Ah, that little thing!'. Which would be fine if the next Orb album 'proper' hadn't been even worse...

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    this page last updated 14/10/08

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