Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Orb - Earth

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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