Although I listened to The Orb's Live album many many years ago and got my hands on the Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells singles remixed by The Orb I have not listened to much of The Orb's music. OK' Fluffy Little Clouds is superb, but from the amount of tracks I have heard I really cannot say that much about how this album rates amonst The Orb's output.
I have very recently returned from Ibiza after a totally "More" inspired holiday - not the drugs but I had the Floyd lp on my mp3. Whilst shopping in the town of Ibiza I could not help but hear techno. In one shop I enquired as to each type of music I was enjoying, was it Techno Ambient? No, the answer - Techno Minimal. So now I have a new musical term. And guess what, just by chance this album is Techno Minimal ( I think or should that be "I dink"?).
By watching the video supplied to Amazon one can get the feel of David's guitar playing. Minimal notes. minimal effort (for an axe god) but maximum mood setting. Reviews in the press liken this guitar work to Echoes or Shine On... well, yes and no. The soundscapes here are lush. Very suited to over dubbing the Landscape Channel on Sky 205 or playing with Winamp visuals.
The 3D cd must be played through headphones to get the full effect. In much the same way as The Final Cut and The Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking with their holophonics recording method.
David does rock out a little on track 2 in the style of Echoes but it is soooo well hidden. Cluster One and Signs of Life also come to mind as to types of playing found here.
So I am loving this chillout album and possibly this is where The Floyd could have gone post Wish You Were Here. On the quieter side I also listen to Jarre, Oldfield and Brian Eno so just to give you an idea this album sounds nothing like any of their outputs. But you could find shades here of Ummagumma, The Division Bell, Meddle etc.
Metallic Spheres has a duration of about 50 mins (per disc) but it designed to be looped over and over.
Thanx for reading.
on 13 October 2010
This album has David Gilmour stamped all over it and quite a wonderful creation it is. More trippy than ambient, this collaboration is more than just the sum of it constituent parts. It plays to the strengths of all the collaborators and the finished article is a rich, immersive experience. Indeed, the "3D60" version is mixed specifically for headphone use to mimic a surround sound environment.Through a set of good earphones, the music plays through much more sharply and the arrangement of tracks is changed to make the overall effect of a very different album. When the sleeve says 'bonus disc', it actually means what is says on the tin.
If you are a fan of The Orb and Pink Floyd, you are in for a treat.
Just as an aside, all artist royalties from this album will be contributed to the support of Gary McKinnon, the man the US wants to put on trial for hacking the Pentagon. You would have thought that someone that smart would be offered a job and taken very good care of wouldn't you?
So to my mind, a very worthwhile cause.
on 21 October 2010
I decided to ignore the mixed reviews and downloaded this album (albeit at [...] - bah!) because like a lot of the other reviewers, I'm a fan of The Orb and the Floyd/Dave Gilmour. I'm so glad I trusted my instincts because it has become essential listening for me whether in the gym, out running, driving in the car, lazing in the bath or belting out of my speakers in the front room. Time invested in listening to this album just glides by and it is everything I hoped for. There is Dave Gilmour strumming away and all those clever musical Orb hooks to keep my attention - it really is superb.
As fans of both artists know, their material needs to be listened to as a whole album and played all the way through to best enjoy it. I played Spheres 4 times in a row after my first listen which is usually the sign of something new becoming one of my favourite albums. Spheres is well worth your time and the cost of a download.
There can be little doubt that this is a slick and somewhat ruthless exercise in marketing. The large sticker to the front of the packaging with 'Dark side' colouring,(triangle included), and a 'wall' like signature hopes to grab the eye of any passing Floyd fan, (although fans of Floyds earlier work may well have a bone to pick with the claim that Gilmour is 'the voice of Pink Floyd'),.
So is this just a rip off? Well at first glance you could be forgiven for thinking it was. After all there's the idea of there being just 2 tracks but really it's 5 tracks flowing into one another. Then there's the 'should I get the 1 disc or 2 disc?' question.
To start with the most important thing is the music itself. There is definitely a strong 'Dark side' vibe throughout but in fairness that was and still is an amazing album so I have no problem with a little nod in it's direction. However this is not just some lame 're-interpretation but has it's own very unique and laid back approach. There are all sorts of effects thrown in here from voices to banging on various objects but what is always constant is Gilmours flowing guitar that underpins everything and a synth line that changes often but constantly gives everything a musical foundation and never lets this all drift off into some avant garde pointless noise. This remains musical throughout and although the guitar playing is nearly always subdued it is what provides the musical hook which the listener is brought back to as it drifts around the mix. Musically for me this whole project is surprisingly effective and is very easy to return to. There is always something new to hear and it provides a refreshing addition to the whole Ambient catalogue.
Needless to say production values are spot on and go a long way to making this such a successful release.
So what of the 2 disc release? Well you'd be forgiven for thinking you get a re-mixed 2nd disc that offers a completely different album for your extra 3 quid. What you actually get may be remixed but it's exactly the same as the main disc only it is presented in '3D60 Audio'. What this means is that when you play it through your headphones you get an effect as if the music and it's effects are moving around you 360 degrees. It would appear that this is still an impossible task but credit where it's due this is a fair attempt and it certainly opens the mix out so that everything pans out much further around the listener although it rarely feels is if sounds are behind you. An interesting and for me worthwhile 2nd disc that gives the album room to breathe and on occasion makes the listener jump as an effect opens up to one side or another.
Slick marketing and gimmicks aside this may not be the musical event of the decade but it is a nice album that mixes ambient with the undoubted guitar skills of Dave Gilmour to great effect. Musical and very enjoyable it is never dull and avoids being pretentious. Often a bare musical landscape but always fascinating.
All in all a worthwhile and welcome release and well worth getting in the 2 disc format.
on 14 October 2010
I have never been a huge fan of either Pink Floyd or The Orb. I do however realize that they are/were all talented musicians.I like some of their output but have never been truly passionate like some of their fan base are.
I do however like ambient music,Eno, Budd, Foxx, Oldfield, Bowie,Tangerine Dream,Stars of the Lid, Boards of Canada,Jarre,Biosphere, Eluvium, Aphex,and many many more. I thought I would check this album out and Im glad I did. It is a mature, thought provoking listen. There is a great deal going on, it isnt background ambient in any shape or form and repays repeated listening.I never liked the playful side of the Orb but here they have produced to my mind the most "Adult" of records. I love it and would urge you to at least give it a try. Highly recommended.....
Born from a remix of Gilmour's cover of "Chicago", Metallic Spheres is that most proggy of things, a joint collaboration between David Gilmour (guitar, vocals, effects), and long-in-the-tooth, and now relatively obscure ambient dub pioneers The Orb : At second glance, this collaboration makes perfect sense, right from the start of their career The Orb were referencing Gilmours work (lifting wholesale parts of his work on Floyd albums for their first radio session), building enormous, luxurious ambient soundscapes akin to the longer Floyd material, and, later on, working with, and remixing, Floyd keyboardist Rick Wrights solo material.
"Metallic Spheres" continues the tradition. To say that, these days, The Orb write songs is.. optimistic. Their work on this album is the most accessable in a decade or more - certainly since 2001's "Cydonia" - and dominates the piece, with an assortment of delicate keyboard lines, floating, barely-audible sounds, and, from time to time, pulsing crescendos of instrumentation and precise rhythms that remind me of nothing more than "Broken China" (Rick Wrights under-rated 1996 solo album forged from material he worked on during, and after, Floyd's final studio album "The Division Bell"). On these sumptious works, The Orb create rhythmic, pounding backbeats - think, if you will Floyds "Echoes", (or perhaps Floyd alumni Roger Waters "What God Wants") tinged with the kind of precise, yet otherworldly keyboard and piano lines that sound alien and otherworldly. Sadly, hardly anyone would be buying or listening to this were it the work of The Orb on their own. Enter David Gilmour.
Gilmour, whose textured, and unhurried playing adds an imaginative space to any song, a man who knows it's as much about what you don't play as what you do, brings to these tracks an innate understanding of melody and atmosphere. It's difficult, as such to say what exactly these songs are ; fragments reminiscent of solos and textures in his other work, the drawn out, infinite lines of many an intro to many a Floyd record, and Gilmours lesser known soundtrack stuff. In many ways, "Metallic Spheres", is a summation of many years of work, taking lessons from the soundtracks to "The Colours From Infinity" using rhythms as the foundation of a layered, considered texture of guitars, both the kind of delicate, keening, distinctive solos that have become Gilmours unique voice, and the more subtle, acoustic strums that underpin much of his work. To an extent, "Metallic Spheres" is a fitting statement, a wish fulfilled for some, being an hour long ambient, atmospheric, largely instrumental work by Gilmour comprised almost exclusively of guitar-led, elegant sounds and with The Orb channelling the restrained character of The Floyds instrumental passages to create a initially unlikely, but rewarding piece of music that is, perhaps, up there with some of the most atmospheric work from either of them.
on 16 October 2010
Well, after a couple of listens I have to say that this is more Floyd-esque than I was expecting. There's a contast theme running through this that reminds me of earlier Floyd stuff. This comes to mind on more than a couple of ocassions with familiar analogue synth sounds and gilmour's guitar, harking back early 70's Floyd when they were more experimental.
To summarise this is an execellent 'soundscape' type of album. One should not expect the regular format of songs with verse/chorus/verse etc. and for Floyd and Orb fans alike that shouldn't be an issue as we are kinda used to that anyway. I also found that this album left me craving for more Floyd and has spurred me on to dig out the old classics once again! Does it leave me wanting to delve into the Orb back catalogue? That I'm not sure of, yet.
Oh, and the 3D version is absolutely awesome on headphones and absolutely the best way to experience this interesting and successful collaboration. This album also rewards after repeated listening as there's always some new to discover.
on 22 October 2010
On the one hand...
There are two tracks on this album. They are - A Sigh At The Gates Of Ennui, and Soporific On The Far Edge Of Snore. Actually they're not called that at all as that would take way too much effort, maaan. The tracks are actually imaginatively monikered "The Metallic Side" & "The Spheres Side", which must've taken some time to think up.
What do you get when a band famous for their innovations in ambient dub music some 20 years ago meet up with their hero, the least adventurous guitarist in the annals of prog? Answer - wibble to the nth degree. Firstly I should point out that this album is billed as The Orb featuring David Gilmour, not the other way round, so don't expect a Pink Floyd guitar wig out every five minutes. Dave's noodlings never get out of first gear and are no more than the kind of thing he used to do in the ambient bit of Echoes, plain dull. In fact anyone who has ever mastered two chords and has access to an array of effects pedals and sound manipulation software could have done this.
After a while of it's nigh on half an hour I expected the music on the first track to fade into a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone viz-a-viz Fearless from Meddle. Actually that would have been quite funny.
After all these years the rhythm programs used by Dr Alex Paterson still rely heavily on repetitive Thump-Thump-Thump on the beat, which after 10 minutes gets very wearing. Sprinkled amongst the soundscapes are the trademark twitterings and warblings of Paterson's fauna from space, which is pleasant enough I suppose.
I don't think I'll be playing this again in a hurry.
2 out of 5
But on the other hand.....
Imagine lying on a deserted beach under the hot sun*, pina colada** in hand, as you drift away on a never ending wave of psychedelic ambience washing across your consciousness via the mp3 player. This album is the perfect companion for chilling out. David Gilmour's swathes of gentle ambient noodling drift in and out of Alex Paterson's cosmic soundscapes like flocks of starlings swooping across an azure sky....pure bliss.
* or, in a hammock on a hot day, or alone at night in a darkened room - ** or, rum'n'coke, beer of choice, you get the picture..
4 out of 5
Take your pick!