The Orb consists of two English guys who make some of the most spacey instrumentals you will ever hear in your life. These guys knew that they had to construct an original sound in a very much Ambient context. Their first success was this album.
Does it live up to the expectations of a great listening experience? Let’s find out.
We launch into the album with Little Fluffy Clouds – Ambient Mix 1. We begin with a tripped out approach to a sampled TV program with an assorted array of effects in relation to the sampled program. Some acid textures and breakbeats arrive next, making this piece an excellent downtempo listen. It sounds almost science fiction and Techno like but it is far more original than simply that. A fantastic and colourful way to begin this album. The music at hand is wonderful and unique imagery to a piece like this. It fades out gently at the end.
Next is Earth (Gaia), a darker and strange-sounding piece which utilizes more samples here, and has an underground feeling about it. Since this recording was created and released nearly 30 years ago, it sounds like it could have been recorded today. It’s fantastic and great listening. We then follow on with some subtle breakbeats and varied textures. This album is mind-blowingly good, so far. Some rather Christian sort of biblical sampled voiceover is here as well. The multitracked stereo sounds are fantastic and amazing, it blows away all the mono recorded Rap songs of today. A great listen, and never boring in the nine minutes that it goes on for. Some (likely) Spanish quotes then come. Some cyber computer-based sounds are here towards the end, along with some strangely sampled thunder sounds. An epic listen, which segues into…
Super Nova At The End Of The Universe is where we really take off into science fiction and outer space territory. It’s a great sounding space travel epic that blows away any mainstream EDM today. Seriously, this is so good to hear, particularly through headphones at home. There are continuous space radio transmissions sampled here, and some futuristic percussion and melodic sounds to take us there. More original and rolling breakbeats enter the sonic landscape, along with some almost harp like-sounding melodies here too. A very carefully sonic landscape is created in this piece, perfectly hallucinogenic for the listen, minus the drugs (or not, depending on your own choice). The beats then go into the centre of the mix, making it sound unique as a piece of music. The different fragments of the song then return, like a flashback to the whole piece. Never a dull moment here at all. It’s almost proto Leftfield here. The track gently strips down towards the end, only playing the breakbeats for the most part, before fading out.
Back Side Of The Moon is obviously a reference to Pink Floyd. It’s very long at over 14 minutes in length. Does it sound like a Pink Floyd rip off? Absolutely not. It has an original and clever outer space feel to it upon listening. Some great vocal samples are here, “I’ve been waiting for music like this all my life”, plus some other great spacey samples are here, too. Some liquid sounds exist here, too. It’s original, professional, psychedelic and futuristic, all in one. Some trippy wind chime sounds are here too. A big rushing waterfall-like sound comes in, ready to sweep you away. This is a great achievement of an interesting sounding album, it works perfectly. It’s really trippy in the middle of it. It is a hugely expansive montage of sounds and never bores you, there are always slight changes throughout the sounds on this piece. It is likely one of the best listening experiences you will ever have in your entire life. Towards the end, we hear the waterfall and seagull like sounds fade us into the next piece. Brilliant.
The next piece is Spanish Castles In Space, a reference to Jimi Hendrix, of course. It’s fifteen minutes long, but that should not deter you from listening to this track. We have some science fiction ghostly sounds, to begin with, following with some Spanish spoken on the recording. Some unusual guitar parts then enter, along with some trippy classical piano sounds in the background. There are some great bass guitar notes here as well to fit perfectly into this track. It’s a great and totally chilled track. It’s so relaxing, you can close your eyes and listen to this piece for sure. It is underrated and beautiful. The intricacies of this record are amazing. Some chirping crickets and water splashing arrive next. This track is done to perfection. The elements of this track flow in and out to the ear, making this an expert masterpiece. We end with an escalator type sound and water droplets being heard. Nice.
Following up is another fairly lengthy piece, Perpetual Dawn. It begins with a strange takeoff robotic sounding voice, and many different psychedelic elements coming into play. Rolling breakbeats then enter, making this piece go ahead. Some rather strange laughter is here, and we break into a reggae like piece, which sounds unusual, yet good. Many different samples and elements of musical genius are here. It’s definitely an essential sonic experience for those who enjoy this sort of thing. The mixture of rhythm and melody here is brilliant. It sounds good all the way to the end, all nine minutes of it. Wonderful to hear.
Into The Fourth Dimension comes next. It has some spoken Spanish, ghostly choirs and references to the Voyager spacecraft. We then enter into some danceable beats and some acid like textures and quite a nice tune. Some classical-like violin playing enters next, this is one of the many brilliant features of the song. Many great percussion-based rhythms come next. Surprisingly, The Orb can make danceable tunes too, not just purely ambient tunes. The rhythms here are very catchy. Intricate changes persist in this track, all the way towards the end. It segues into the next piece.
Outlands begins with a thunderstorm and rain, and aircraft going through our ears. It seems much darker and eerie this piece. Some electronic noises and other samples keep us listening on, with cars rushing by. After some cut-up vocal samples, we enter an unusual set of melodies. The banging beats then enter the scene, and we have a great catchy listening experience at hand. Electronic polyrhythms keep our heads nodding all the way through this piece, a brilliant array of intelligent samples. This repeats in an interesting fashion. It exits the scene with a gentle fade out.
The next part of the album is Star 6 & 7 8 9 which begins with mostly birds chirping, with a motorbike rushing past. It then has a sample about star talk, with some psychedelic sound effects, and the sample of a fly. This continues on with other interesting sounds. More melodies enter the scene, and this is likely the most downtempo piece on the album. There are some soothing harmonies in the background. There are hi-hats that sound pretty cool on this track. It lulls into a quieter section, before going into the last track on the album.
Lastly, we arrive at A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld which has a super long track title, and length of time too. It’s nearly twenty minutes long. We have some ethereal sounds and rushing water, to begin with. It’s a nice touch. The melodies go in and out of the centre of the mix. It’s definitely a chill track here. More water-based sounds make this track flow, before going back into some subtle melodies. We have a mixture of sung female lyrics, whilst the rest of the track flows on. Some good harmonies are here, too. Some discordant sound effects then take place, including church bells. The repeated melodies and sound effects make this piece an interesting listen. The fragments of this track emerge and re-emerge, making it a fantastic and trippy sonic experience. We then come into some actualised and pounding beats, the brain of the ultraworld is here. Some screaming jet sounds are ever-present here too. The melodic fragments all come back together at the end of this piece, making this album extremely well thought out, and one of the best of its kind ever made.
This album is worth every minute of your time. It is not something that can be simply pigeonholed into one specific genre or area, it rises above all that. Mind you, if you like laidback electronic music, begin here. This album is very much near perfect. One of the greatest recordings ever made.