Whenever I write, whether it’s a review or a story, I make a conscious effort to not take for granted that readers know what I’m talking about.

However, in the case of The Orb, trying to explain their background and historical importance is quite a colossal task, especially in this, our era of information abundance. If you do not know them, I suggest starting here.

Still, I need to give a little bit of context to set the stage for my perception and review of their new album, “Moobuilding 2703 AD”.

Pioneers, revolutionary, legendary, et caetera. All of those epithets are sprinkled about liberally when describing the work of Alex Paterson, Thomas Fehlmann and all their collaborators throughout the last nearly 30 years.

The Orb made their mark with their first two, majestic albums, “The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld” (1991) and “U.F.Orb” (1992), the latter even making it to the very top of the Album charts in the UK, thanks in large part to its single Blue Room which, clocking in at 39m 57s, is still, to the this day, the longest single to have charted, even breaking the Top 10 and making it to the 8th position!

Those massive albums were followed by a world tour and the requisite live album, and that was followed by a period during which most of their fans — without going so far as repudiating the band — would agree that they were kind of lost.

Personally, I more or less stopped following them after their “Orbus Terrarum” (1995), and I only picked up on their work about 10 years later with the release of “Okie Dokie It’s the Orb on Kompakt” (2005). I can’t exactly say I was thrilled with that album, either; they were in a completely different place, and seemingly out of touch with the ongoing vibe of electronic music.

What really irked me with their productions between 2005 and the current new album was that they seemed — or at least that’s how I perceived it — to be self-parodying.

Now, let’s be clear: they’ve always had a very healthy dose of humor and tongue-in-cheekness in their productions and choice of samples, but the self-parody of the past decade smacked of a lack of inspiration or, worse, like they were constantly telling their fans:

“So, all you’re interested in is what we did in 1991 and 1992? Fine, here it is, now fuck off.”

But even if that’s the case, they ultimately came across as being out of new ideas.

Lo and behold — and to the greatest joy of many people I’m sure — they seem to have made peace with their past and the four tracks on Moonbuilding are a pure delight!

The atmosphere of their classic albums is intact, but renewed just enough that they don’t sound like they are repeating themselves while remaining themselves (and avoiding the pitfall of trying to sound like their — few and far between — contemporaries).

What I loved the most about those new tracks is that they are back to making long symphony-like tracks composed of many movements, as opposed to the rather short almost radio formatted tracks of the last decade, while at the same time finding the perfect balance between the more uptempo, beat-driven aspect of said productions and their signature ambient style.

In other words, you can dance to them standing up or sitting down!

My intuition is that Fehlmann has had more of an influence on the creative process than in recent years, but be that as it may, this album is also more melodic than pretty much anything they’ve done before.

That is not to say that Moonbuilding has any kind of melody you will hum when not listening to the album, but it’s certainly less monotonous and not always carried by the bass.

That being said, you’ll need to be patient: the key changes that give the album it’s “melodic” feel are still few and far between, but they’re only the more potent when they occur!

I can’t vouch for the future, but, at least for this one album, The Orb is back, and with a vengeance!

Oh! And don’t miss their upcoming live show at SAT on Sept. 18th during POP Montréal; they’re still a great live experience and, usually, Paterson plays a DJ set after the band’s live performance.

 

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THE ORB
Moonbuilding 2703 AD
(Kompakt Records, 2015)

Genre: Ambient, Minimal Techno, Deep Techno
For fans of Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Carl Craig, Kompakt

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About The Author

Monsieur Seb
Blogueur - RREVERB
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Baptisé par Pink Floyd, ses parrains sont Bach et les Stones. DJ depuis 1984, batteur autodidacte, producteur de musique électronique depuis 2000, Monsieur Seb a été chef de la section culturelle chez Canoë pendant près de 10 années.

Il collabore également sur Archipel Magazine, le blogue — et bientôt magazine imprimé — du label électronique montréalais Archipel.