The Orb are long term member Alex Paterson, and Thomas Fehlmann (though there have been many co-members along the way, including KLF member Jimmy Cauty, and famously Kris “Thrash” Weston). To put it simply, without the Orb there would be no "Little Fluffy Clouds”, no ”Blue Room”, and ambient music would probably have been no way as popular as it became in the early to mid-nineties. I think you remember them now.
This is the Orb's ninth studio release, and cryptically it is the third in the ”Orbsessions” series. Now, the problem that I have found with the Orb is that arguably they have never been able to quite top ”Little Fluffy Clouds”. Also they have divided opinions further along in their career, with some feeling they hadn't moved significantly with the times, and so lost some of their relevance. Still, being an enormous fan of the Orb, I listen with a glad heart.
“Styrofoam Meltdown” is instantly the Orb, you can just tell... Dripping water – check, slightly ambient drones – check, spacey ethereal sounds – also check, but hold on... suddenly there is a bit of pace and life, the Orb has beats! Now this shouldn't be surprising, especially to long-term devotees, but if you are a casual observer, this is revelatory stuff. The track is one of the best I've heard from the Orb in a long time, my attention is pricked!
“Chocolate Fingers”, first introduced via the Orb's MySpace page, is classic Orb fare; in fact you may even recognise some of those ambient sounds from the past. The album continues in the same vein with dreamy soundscapes vividly created in timeless Orb-manner. By “Dolly Unit” the tempo is upped again, the beats are back, and there is a sign that variety is one of the Orb's current focuses – the track also proves to be one of my favourites on this set. “Super Soakers”, takes a while to get going (actually around five minutes!), but is pleasant enough once it does. There's also something very blissful about ”Pebbles” and ”Woodlarking”, a wave of nostalgia crept over me listening to the atmospherics of those tracks.
In these days of shuffle, skip, and delete I feel artists such as the Orb will suffer, as people don't seem to have the patience to sit through a whole album these days – a shame, as this is a rewarding journey when listened to in full, and in order– not quite the heady heights of the old days, but nine albums in, there's still life in the ol' Orb yet!