23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
One of the Greatest Albums Ever Made!!!,
This review is from: Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, The [Us Import] (Audio CD)
Every now and then an album is released that is just so fantastic it takes you ten years to realise how great it is.
The Orb's adventures in the Ultraworld is one of those albums. This album is so fantastic I could talk endlessly for hours about it, but I have 1,000 words only so I will be as concise as I can.
This is a journey literally into previously uncharted waters. Forget anything you have ever heard before i.e Pink Floyd, Radiohead and other extraterrestrial artists - the Orb are the first group who pioneered a sound called 'Ambient Dub'. Alex Paterson was and still is a genius.
Listening to this album, I often wonder especially as it was made 13 years ago, how the sounds on it were made and processed. It was as if The Orb invented their own equipment!!`
I first really got to grips with this album one night in April 2003 after owning the album for 6 years and heard many tracks from The Orb over the last 13 years.
Believe me it takes a long time to 'get' this album. When you do you will realise nothing in your life will be the same again.
Here is a rough track-by track guide to help a person curious about this album to figure what The Orb are all about
LITTLE FLUFFY CLOUDS - Track 1
One of the very first dance tunes that wasnt cheesy and VERY futuristic sounding at the time. A mixture of swirling synths, dub and vocal samples put together with breathtaking ease. Although this track is amazing I think it should have been on the 2nd CD of the album as it is very upbeat and the 1st CD is very 'stoner' sounding. (If you like this track check out the music of Higher Intelligence Agency - their track 'Spectral is almost a carbon copy without the vocal samples)
A sample of a rocket taking off propels us into track two - a track until recently I would never listen to as it was too much for me. Now I realise it is one of the best tracks on the album
The first REAL Ambient dub track here, awash with ingenuity. Vocal samples used to stunning effect '...and I shall plant these upon my land...and the hills shall melt'constrast with the FX trickery that only listening can describe. Keyboard blips, sound effects that make you feel as if you have taken off from EARTH and are looking at it from a distance. A very special track that is quite short compared with the rest of the album!
A whiney effect is used to end the track almost as if you are moving on from earth to anothe planet.
SUPERNOVA AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE
One of the best tracks of all time, extremely good music for getting 'stoned' too. Heavenly keyboard effects are just that, make you feel you could be in heaven, with a low-level dub-bass dragging you down. Although the pace picks up a little it is never to fast - it is not dance music, very relaxing as if you are floating in space. Full of astronaut vocal samples 'we have a beautiful view of the earth here which is absolutely fantastic'. This track is also full of stunning special effects - reverb, time delayed samples, again difficult to describe without listening. The track again morphs into BACK SIDE OF THE MOON...
This track is a real 'stoner-dub' track awash with similar samples from the last track. But it is slower and even more relaxing. A watery effect gradually comes into the mix and the spacey sounds gradually disappear almost as if you have jumped into a water shoot and are disappearing into the unknown before splashing down in a new terrain.
The last track on CD 1 SPANISH CASTLES IN SPACE is less spacey than all of the others, but filled with a blues guitar and low-level bass. More obscure samples are thrown in, and this track lasts over 15 minutes ending with a ride down a train track and finishing with watery dripping textures (a signature of ever Orb album practically). The Orb have this ability to make samples morph into the music so they FEEL part of it - even though they are alien to the body (SEE the track EARTH) of the music. The secret is they have the ability to use their own music as support to the samples (although in later years they used a lot less samples - probablly because they didnt want to get loaded with the charge of being a sample-based group)
The first CD will take a while to absorb, but our journey is only half-completed so stick the 2nd CD in the player to continue our journey into the cosmos.
The second CD is 'slightly' less brilliant as the first CD but there is not much in it whatsever. This CD showcases the upbeat Orb we first were introduced to in the 'Little Fluffy Clouds' tune. The first track or track 6 PERPETUAL DAWN has its roots in Jamaican Raggae music. The influence is most strong on this track. It is also very catchy and was released as a single (Made the Top 20 in 1991) although in a slightly different format. This tune is very uplifting and more danceable than anything else - another reviewer called this track 'mercurial'. I'd have to agree with it.
The next track INTO THE FOURTH DIMENSION starts with more of that watery texture and 'dripping' noised discussed previously with samples of cars screeching. It soon drifts off and becomes a lot darker in mood. Samples of monks chanting and classical influences can be heard in this track. It is the most 'world music' of all of the tracks. (See Enigma for similar music)This is a track im not a big fan of and tend to skip.
OUTLANDS starts with very filmic type music - almost a soundtrack to films like Dracula or early horror films. The actual 'meat' of the track is very different to this. This has its feet in more 'electronic' music, defintely the influence of collaborator Thomas Fehlmann - The master Swiss Producer. Like many of the Orb tracks on this album it has many samples 'are you the best boyfriend a girl could possible have' and a robotic sample '55555.4444.333.444'. This track ends rather than morphs into STAR 6 & 7,8,9. I could spend forever talking about this track, as deposited earlier in the review. It is so beautiful. It almost has a spanish flavor, but starts off with the sample 'one upon time, a little rough at the edges but with stars in her eyes'. Then an electronic synth starts and bceomes the backbone of the track. After a few moments a spanish guitar kicks in and is extremely well played and very catchy. The backdrop of the tune starts with noised from the countryside such as car noises, bees and trees whistling. About half way through it changes to a very spacey and heavenly background with a human simulated keyboard vocal noises 'ahhh...uhhhh'. Check out the Chemical Brothers tune 'One too many mornings' for this type of effect. This is one of my favourite tracks of all-time.
The final explosive track 'A HUGE EVER GROWING BRAIN...' is actually a 'live'recording but is a dance-esque tune with a repeated sample 'da da da de - da da da de' all the way through, with a barrage or rising and falling vocal noises and other effects. This is a lot of people's favourite Orb tracks, it isnt mine I have to say although it is a fantastic example of special effects trickery.
This album was the start of The Orb's career, and although they eventually bettered it 6 years later with 'Orblivion' it still is today one of the few pioneering alums of Ambient. Alex Paterson would prefer the term 'Ambient dub'. Th album contains elements of raggae, dub, techno, dance, electronica as well as 'soundtrack' music. There are so many albums i would reccomend if you enjoy this album. Perhaps Brian Eno's Apollo is a worthy predecessor of the Ambient description and Global Communication for a similar masterpiece. The Starseeds 'Parallel Life' if you enjoy Ambient Dub, HIA if you like 'downbeat techno/dance. Bob Marley et al for Raggae and David Holmes for Soundtrack influences. His album 'Lets get Killed' has some Orb influences on there.
If you want to continue your interest in The Orb, I would defintely purchase Orblivion and then UF Orb for the more space elements. Orbus Terrarum is very dub-like and Pomme Fritz is very strange and deranged. Cydonia is another good album and the new album Bicycles and Tricycles is a great album to get if you enjoyed 'Outlands' on this album.
Hope you enjoy the album and this review has helped you.