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It's also a nostalgic album, for people in their early 30s. The pre-internet 'Wired'-era computer whizz-bang space-age techno-pagan futurism of it all was mirrored in contemporary releases by the Future Sound of London, System 7 and so forth, and although this kind of ambient space music is now as dated as krautrock was in 1992, it's heartbreaking to listen to. So many dreams and hopes smashed to bits.
Excellent way to show off a hi-fi system, too, because it has quiet bits and loud bits and they all sound top-notch. 'Sticky End' is a short joke track and 'Majesty' is a bit irritating, but it's otherwise an excellent way to spend fifty minutes or so. Shame they didn't include the lengthy 'Blue Room' single as a pack-in or bonus track (it was basically the album version looped a couple of times, with a different bassline).
And it's "Teilhard de Chardin", it took me ages to find that out; he's the one who conceived of a third world, a world of objective contents of thoughts.
As a summation of a point in musical time, it's as evocative as 'Revolver' or 'Ziggy Stardust' or 'Sound Affects'. And like all of those, there's something ineffably British about the way The Orb took beats from Detroit, minimalist compositions from New York and dub from Jamaica, and stretched and warped them into a completely new form. If the clubs were full of house and techno, the bedrooms were full of smoke and ambient dub, and The Orb were responsible for much of it.
'U.F.Orb' is their finest achievement, proving that 'Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld' wasn't a novelty record but the herald (along with The KLF's 'Chill Out') of a new genre. The sound here is both denser and more dubby, with more going on but less dependence on the BBC sound effects records and slowed-down house beats that were the backbone of their earlier work. 'Blue Room' (here edited from its 39'58" single length) and 'Towers of Dub' are the standouts, but The Orb's legacy is even more impressive than their music. You can hear it not only in experimental 'dance' music from Shpongle to Monolake, from Portishead to Lemon Jelly; it's embedded in mainstream pop, soundtracks and muzak the world over. And if you still have that triple vinyl release, with the PVC intact, I bet it's worth a fortune.
This album is beautiful. Ambient soundscapes and sampled effects sweep over you and help you relax. Its easiest for me to compare this to Dark Side Of The Moon or Kid A/OK Computer era Radiohead so I will.
This album shares the same sort of forward vision as those albums and in the same way that those albums are very ambitious and complex this is too. This is where the greatest music comes from and also where the biggest failings come from, when artists try to be ambitious. Fortunately Alex has the talent to make it work.
The album should not be listened to as tracks, it should be listened to as one long experience. The album take different styles such as dub and mixes it with a sort of prototype of trip hop. When voices come in they aid the flow of music rather than lock the music down. The album works because none of the individual factors in it take over, they all work together.
I suppose that because Jimmy Cauty of the KLF founded the Orb with Patterson (and left before this recording), and because when this was recorded ambient dance had'nt progressed as far as it would, this and all of the Orb's records in the first few years will be compare with the KLF's Chillout album. True, both this album and Chillout are classics but they are very different. This Orb album is very influenced by Jamaican Dub, Darkside era Pink Floyd soundscapes and at times very trippy sounds. Chillout may sound a bit basic compared to this but then again, Chillout was the first true ambient dance album.
If you only ever buy one dance album buy this.Read more ›