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.
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 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!
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.....
on 11 October 2010
An interesting and highly succesful cooperation between the illustrious Pink Floyd guitar hero and the sonic pioneers The Orb. And a true collaboration, not just the Orb plus some Gilmour samples. Instead he plays some truly atmospheric guitarparts which blends effortleesly with The Orb's soundscapes. Really integrated in to the music without hardly any display of his usual blues-scale based leads. Rather reminiscent of Steve Hillage's restrained and spacey playing with System 7.
Two long suite like tracks with varying soundpatterns. Bass/drum like passages organically drifting towards more free flowing ambient parts and some almost new age like quietness. With a common thread in the form of snippets from a remake of Graham Nash's "Chicago".
Essential for fans of the psychedelic side of Pink Floyd and of music that likes to take you on an inner journey.
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.
on 4 November 2010
Well, this is interesting. I have looked through the reviews so far, and has this collaboration really caused a stir? I absolutlely love "the" Orb. And, I am a toptastic 'Floyd fan. In fact my order for 'Spheres included the remastered Syd albums which, strangely, were released on the same day. Even the 'stranger' offerings like Pomme Fritz do 'float my boat'. So you read this review from a biased observer. I love the comments "like relaxing in a boat" and "repetitive". Er, hold on mate - this the Orb, I do like the idea of "floating in a boat". Will carry that on with my for some time.
As with all Orb, this takes a couple of takes. But as ever, there are elements in there that simply grow on you. In all my years of listening to any form of music, I always feel that music must grow. If you like it first time, you will get bored very soon. But hey, thats how the 3 minute market make their money.
Yes, this is one almighty Jam session. To be fair, that is what Orb are. Just this time around they have got together with one of the greatest guitarists in the world today.
So, to conclude. If you are hear looking for a great guitar solo from Mr Gilmour in the style of "Comfortably Numb" then you are going to be disappointed. If it is yet another rambling chill fest from Mr Patterson and Youth with some input from one of the most respected musicians of our time, then sit back, slap on the Sennheisers and chill.
on 9 December 2013
I am a die hard fan of Mr Gilmour, he is a guitar god, a legend. Why then do I find this so hard to get into, sorry but this passed me by and left me cold. Let's hope this isn't the last we'll here from my all time fav guitarist.
on 10 November 2015
Interesting album, bought on the off chance due to David Gilmours input, definitely different, has Floyd influence in there, but not really like them, some great riffs but not in the same league as the Floyd.