on 10 May 2004
After almost 15 years worth of albums to their names, Paterson et al have once again made an album to be proud of. Their lack of direction felt over their last couple of albums (and mix albums BadOrb.com and Auntie Aubrey’s Excursions) made me worried that The Orb saga was soon to be forgotten.
This album is probably their most demanding work to date. Fusing elements as diverse as Hip Hop (Aftermath), Detroit Techno (Gee Strings), Dub (Tower Twenty Three) and Fennesz/Twine style Ambient Glitch (Compania and Dilmun), there is a great diversity between the album albeit with the usual Orb style playfulness and consistency found in the previous works.
The only track that seems to fail to have any impact is ‘The Land of The Green Ginger’, a track that would not seem out of place 10 years ago. With rather tired arpeggiation and overuse of ‘silly’ narration, it seems more of a retrospective of their earlier ambient meanderings that the critics hated so much, rather than a song worthy to be upon this album.
The production also seems to improved greatly over their earlier works with a far greater spectral range than that of say Orblivion and even Cydonia. It seems as if they were too aware of this evolution of sound through the ‘remix’ of their debut track ‘Huge ever growing pulsating brain that rules from the centre (of the ultraworld)’ in the track From A Distance which features Orbital style dark bass lines and layering of sound bringing their 1991 track up to date.
The last two tracks also mark a completely new style for The Orb and one which I hope they continue developing in the future. Featuring the glitchy style ambience that is normally associated to Touch:To and Mego artists, they have constructed a dark ambience with incredibly rich tonal quality and a fantastic depth to the sound.
Overall, this album is one which I am incredibly pleased to have purchased. This is something that will not only entertain long-term Orb fans like myself, but also as a debut to those willing to experience the more melodic side of ‘ambient-techno’ (a phrase particularly loved in the mid 90’s !). This album is considerably darker than previous releases and in turn added a lot more depth to their sound.
on 14 October 2014
As I have the benefit of hindsight I can now comfortably state that I believe this is the best Orb album of their career. The 'Ultraworld' debut was magnificent, 'UFOrb' was okay and everything following that album I did not care for until the wonderful 'Bicycles & Tricycles'. Just in case anyone cares, I didn't like the albums that followed this until the awesome collaboration with David Gilmour that was 'Metallic Spheres'.
Before hearing the album I had low expectations, there'd been some confused releases, Youth was missing and Thomas Fehlman (whose work I believe to be highly over rated) was part of the team. As soon as I hit play I was a goner, it has an immediate pull and filled me with justified optimism. I'm sure Orb fans were surprised by this album as it treads new sonic territory, the second track has an MC rapping! Even more surprising, it works. The variation does not end there, whilst the trademark Orb characteristics are present their style has expanded, stronger techno elements and lovely bass massaging dub. They are often wrongly viewed as ambient masters whose works are conducive to trancing out and let's be honest, sending you to the world of nod. Yes there are some of those elements, particularly the latter portion of the album but it is an engrossing listening experience. I've not yet tried it but I'm positive this will be an incredible listening experience with headphones. Of course it works best as a whole and when the tracks are so very good that's an easy thing to do.
I don't blame those who have been put off by the really awful stuff they've done, Pomme Fritz almost had me abandoning ship but if you feel that way, go on, give them another chance, 'Bicycles & Tricycles' will have you back on board.
on 23 March 2005
The Orb may not be as relevant to electronic music and music in general as they once were but BAT shows that they still know how to make a great album. More upbeat and diverse, this album isn't so much a single listening epic as their early stuff but just a collection of good Orb tracks, naturally filled with weird, trippy samples. The best tracks are Hell's Kitchen, The Land of Green Ginger, Gee Strings, LUCA and From a Distance all of which are classic Orb. Everything else is good but these tracks are the ones that make the album such a good listen. Worth buying but get their earlier releases to see them at their full potential.
on 11 May 2004
So the Orb have just released their 7th album in there 14th year of existance. The album is different to the Japanese version of this album with many tracks altered in sound. It is noticeable that the change in Orb style has continued from Cydonia which started and ended spacey but had more electronic and drum'n bass moments. This album has one foot in hip-hop, another in dub and another in pure electronica.
The opener Orb Is is solid but unspectacular, standard Orb fare really but with hard beats and squelchy synths. The new track Aftermath is definitely a new direction for The Orb in Hip-Hop with an MC rapping - surprisingly good a very enjoyable track. The following Land of Green Ginger is superb - a track of real invention and very catchy riff and is the most orb moment of the album. A track I love.
The following Hell's Kitchen is fast paced with furious melodies and riffs, again a very enjoyable slighly spacey track again with it's feet more in electronica. Gee Strings is a slice of Detroit House and a little repetitive but very Orb sounding ending with an amusing trademark Orb sample - you will have to listen I don't want to spoil the surprise.
I'm not a fan of Prime Evil, but Abstractions is another dark but fantastic track with rising and falling vocal samples. LUCA is very hypnotic with a very hard beat and claustrophobic in intensity. Not my cup of tea. From a Distance is actually two tracks really as it is mixed with a huge ever growing brain...im a bigger fan of the original 12"version which appeared on the Japanese version.
Im not a fan of Tower 23, but Kompania is very interesting unlike anything ive heard - maybe ambient drone is a fair description. Dilmun is also fantastic to close the album with. A territory I'd like to see the Orb progress into next.