Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Pop
Out-of-print in the US. Single disc pressing of their sophomore ambient/chill out classic from Alex Paterson and Kris Weston that featured the mammoth single "Blue Room", which clocked in around 40 minutes! By entering the... more »
Out-of-print in the US. Single disc pressing of their sophomore ambient/chill out classic from Alex Paterson and Kris Weston that featured the mammoth single "Blue Room", which clocked in around 40 minutes! By entering the UK Top 10, the track was the longest ever to make the charts! It was recorded with former PiL bassist Jah Wobble and keyboardist Miquette Giraudy, as well as guitarist Steve Hillage. Seven tracks including 'Towers Of Dub', 'Majestic', 'Close Encounters' and the aforementioned 'Blue Room'. Universal.
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It was over almost as soon as it began.
Angry Mofo | 10/03/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In 1992, The Orb were the toast of the town. At the time, their debut Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld was the longest, most ambitious, and most successful electronic album ever made. They collaborated with Jimi Cauty of KLF infamy, and had a high-profile production spot on Primal Scream's rock/house cross-over Screamadelica. Their second album, U.F.Orb, was pretty much destined to hit number one.
But, even here, at the peak of their success, the cracks were showing. On this album, they greatly cut back on their use of samples, possibly as a reaction against critics who accused them of not writing enough original material. U.F.Orb has a greater focus on music, as opposed to sound collage. Unfortunately, The Orb were good at sound collage, but very mediocre at writing music. Without the benefit of repeating sampled voices, sound effects, and danceable beats, the opening track "O.O.B.E." is really bland. All that remains is one plodding progression of ambient chords, stretched out to thirteen minutes. Even when the samples appear, they're not that interesting -- a guy talks about "the world of objective contents of thoughts," which I guess is as close as The Orb ever came to being cerebral.
The album's centerpiece, the seventeen-minute "Blue Room," also fails. It has its moments, like the five-note plinking keyboard line that pops up about a third of the way through. The track could have been salvaged by following the blueprint of the similarly-endless "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld" from the first album -- that is, using the five-note keyboard line as the backbone of the song, then phasing the soft ambience in and out and combining it with samples. The alien/conspiracy theme referred to by the title would have been a great subject for a spooky sound collage. But "Blue Room" is much too jarring to have that kind of effect. Halfway through, they remove the ambience and bring in an obnoxious loud beat, too loud to chill out to, but too slow to be danceable. This is backed by a meandering bassline from Jah Wobble, whose guest appearances (also on Screamadelica) are very over-rated in my opinion. It's not very good groove material, and even then it's repeatedly interrupted by whirring and clanging of some kind. The single edit of this song was forty minutes long, but the album version is already taxing enough.
On the other hand, the six-minute title track, which almost seems like a throw-away next to the other, much longer tracks, is actually really good. It's also the closest in style to Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld. First, in a long ambient intro, the band uses a sample of a Radio Moscow broadcast about Gagarin's space flight. Levitan's mighty voice, already stately and portentous, is slightly downtuned to sound even more dramatic. Then, the track changes into an excellent house groove with a very catchy bass line. The bass sounds much cooler and funkier than Jah Wobble's playing in "Blue Room." If only six perfect minutes could salvage a seventy-minute album.
The second side is more playful. There is a truly lovely part in "Towers Of Dub" where a cheerful harmonica plays while echoing keyboards form the classic staccato reggae rhythm in the background. But even so, that track is way too long. The harmonica-keyboard climax occurs halfway through, and after that is mostly just drums and bass. The use of keyboards and dub echoes to play the rhythm is an original touch, but The Orb's best techno-reggae fusion is still "Perpetual Dawn" from the first album.
The last two tracks are more dancefloor-oriented. Both are competently made, and the keyboard line in "Majestic" is the best pop hook on the whole album. At the same time, they don't have much individual character. "Close Encounters" is particularly bland, consisting mostly of repeated rhythmic keyboard rattles. It's listenable, but there are many other dancefloor tracks out there, by other bands, with charismatic vocals, memorable lyrics, or inventive beats, which are all lacking here. "Majestic" has a sample of some woman talking about how great it is to appear on TV, but that's just...boring. Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld had far odder and more diverse samples. I'd rather listen to the nature documentary in "Spanish Castles In Space."
The length really hurts the album. Most of it isn't too bad, but the whole thing is so numbingly long that listening to it is a chore. Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld was even longer, but it had enough great singles, dispersed evenly throughout, to hold one's attention. But here, even the good moments (except for the title track) are more like brief flashes of inspiration within horrendously long tracks. U.F.Orb would have been better as a vinyl LP.
Things only got worse later. The Orb got bogged down in a label conflict, and were quickly pushed out of the spotlight by other techno bands. The Orb's audience dwindled, and they came up with no new ideas aside from the ambient-house they introduced with their first album. From their entire career, I recommend Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, which is quite enjoyable and entertaining, but I don't recommend anything else."