The Orb are very reminiscent of a time in my life when, it is fair to say, I did a lot of chillin’. I was a research student but, unlike most of my peers, used to get up very early and get my work done by lunchtime. I would then spend long afternoons listening to the likes of Orbital, The Future Sound of London and The Orb often lying on my bed and just drifting away. On one memorable occasion I was listening away ‘ambiently’ and, after about two hours, realised that the CD had finished ages ago and what I was actually listening to was the sound of my radiator filling up. I clearly had a very groovy radiator.
That time meant a lot to me, and so when I heard that The Orb had got together with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, another favourite of mine, I was, to say the least, intrigued. It struck me as being a match made in a very spiritual place indeed. After all what set The Orb from many of their contemporaries was a real Dub aesthetic to their music. The first album from this collaboration, 2012’s Orbserver in the Star House was both refreshing while at the same time seeming a natural progression for both The Orb’s Alex Paterson, and Perry; the update of Little Fluffy Clouds (Golden Clouds) being a good example of this.
So productive were those sessions at Starhouse Studio in Berlin that a second album, More Tales From The Orbservatory, has been released. To the casual, er, orbserver this might seem like a bit of an attempt to scrape the bottom of the tub. This is not the case, however, and while this second outing certainly lacks the coherence of its predecessor there is plenty here to keep fans of both The Orb and Perry more than happy. I think it is fair to say that while there is certainly no filler to this album, you do get the impression that there was an effortlessness to these sessions which could go some way to explain their prolific output.
It is difficult for me to pick out specific tracks from this album, not because they are all the same, but that they all carry the same timeless hallmarks that these musicians are well known for, and it is perhaps a sign of confidence (at least from my perspective) that the album mostly gets stronger as it goes along, starting with the relatively lightweight Fussball before reaching a crescendo with Making Love in Dub and Ice Age; both of which are huge, melodic and sensual. The album also includes instrumental versions of each track.
I can well imagine listening to this album while chillin’ out on a sunny afternoon or a late evening and getting lost in its intricate bass, ‘Scratch’ Perry ramblings and electronic licks. I am not sure that I could ever mistake it for a radiator though, and I mean that in a good way.
The Orb are headlining a gig at the Koko in London on July 13th, and are making a number of festival appearances over the summer.