Perpetual Dawn: The Orb Has Arrived at Last!

It was Pledgemusic’s announcement which first alerted me to the monumental event which was pending in the summer of 2016. The Pledgemusic website reported that:

“On Friday 29th July 2016, electronic titans The Orb will perform their seminal debut album ‘Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld’ in full for the first time ever, to mark its 25th anniversary.

For this very special sliver jubilee gig, Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann will be joined on stage by the original cast of collaborators who helped create the magic on this influential, era-defining milestone, plus a special punk icon whose music heavily influenced The Orb.

Paul Cook of Sex Pistols fame will guest on drums and fellow punk legend, original Orb member and ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ co-writer Youth will join on bass.

Psychedelic-electronic-prog heroes Steve Hillage and partner Miquette Giraudy co-wrote ‘Supernova’ and ‘Backside Of The Moon’, and will also bring their mythical shamanistic magic to this special show.

If all that wasn’t coup enough fellow ‘Ultraworld’ contributors Andy Falconer, Tom Green and Hugh Vickers will also guest, whilst original Orb lighting wizard David Herman will transform Electric Brixton into a vintage fractal technical wonderland.

Amidst the late 80s fervor of acid house The Orb explored their own meandering tangent, drawing on hip hop sample culture, krautrock, kosmische, ambience and a wealth of unusual and unlikely sound sources. In doing so they pioneered a more horizontally-inclined alternative to the jacking trax emanating from discerning nightclubs’ main rooms.

The_Orb-2016-promo-1a

Following a limited number of prototype 12”s from early pre-Orb incarnations, ‘Ultraworld’ was The Orb’s first fully formed, double album realization of the sonic sculpture they’d been finessing, amidst a punk-schooled period of fertile, no-rules creativity.

The album was a critical and chart smash that soundtracked a generation. It still sounds amazing today and its influence on subsequent decades of dance music is immeasurable.”

It had already been a thrilling year – The Avalanches reissued their album, Since I Left You in the UK and Europe to the delight of fans the world over, the Ann Arbor label, Ghostly International reissued Telefon Tel Aviv’s ambient glitch epic Fahrenheit Fair Enough on sky blue wax, John Carpenter issued the second volume of his Lost Themes collection, electronic music veterans, Underworld released Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future to great critical acclaim, proving they still have every ounce of their musical prowess, Klaus Schulze and the late Pete Namlook released a box set of the first four volumes of their ambient Dark Side of the Moog series, and Brian Eno outdid himself for the hundredth time with the ethereal and meditative album, The Ship which had the astonishing ability to stop time with each play.

But it was the anticipation of this reunion of the icons of ambient house which captivated me for the remainder of the year. Sadly, there were delays with the production of the vinyl release. Many, many months passed with infrequent updates from the Live Here Now team. Eventually, the 3CD+DVD edition arrived in the States, but it was the triple blue vinyl edition I was really waiting to get my hand on. Thankfully, today – May 12, 2017 the long-awaited package arrived from the UK.

DSC08743

The Orb’s Further Adventures Live 2016 was available exclusively from PledgeMusic or at The Orb show at the Royal Festival Hall in London on the 21st of April 2017. The CD edition also features interviews with Alex, Thomas, Youth, Paul Cook, Steve Hillage & Miquette Giraudy, all of whom participated in the event.

The 180g bright blue discs are housed in a heavy triple-gatefold jacket matching that of the CD+DVD release. The packaging and albums are of excellent quality all throughout, making this set well worth the wait.

DSC08748

This is a wonderful treasure for any fan of The Orb, of chillout music, and for anyone who spent their college days on the backside of the moon. An exciting performance, expertly captured and mastered, documenting a real milestone event for all those involved.

If you buy only one tripped-out exclusive dub-inspired space music anniversary concert album reuniting a generation of the gods of ambient house this century… make it this one.

Time to Relax

A magnificent weekend! Beautiful, sunny weather, home repairs completed, and now to spend the evening hours awash in sonic bliss (presently Spacemind’s psybient mix entitled, Distant Worlds) and furiously poring over texts on the history of ambient music, taking note of major works which had previously escaped my radar.

Matt Anniss has just published a breathtaking examination of Ambient House music rich with samples of the works discussed. The write up discusses press documents and mailing list exclusives from the KLF add the dawn of the Chill Out scene, the Land of Oz parties, nights at Trancentral, veterans like Steve Hillage, David Toop, and Manuel Gottsching, the Telepathic Fish and the Spacetime parties, Megatripolis, guest speeches from Terence McKenna, Alan Ginsberg, George Monbiot and Timothy Leary… it is absolutely fantastic.

And Mike Watson (producer of Ultima Thule in Sydney) has done an exquisite job provided a deeper, historical perspective on many of the most significant and influential artists in the field of ambient music on his website, AmbientMusicGuide.com

A relaxing evening at home, inspiring reading, and a hot cup of coffee. What more does a man need?

serveimage.jpg

Moonbuilding 2703 AD (2015) has arrived!

This evening, the latest 3LP special edition of The Orb’s new album arrived from Kompakt Records!

Check out the photos below.

Moonbuilding 2703 AD (2015)

Moonbuilding 2703 AD (2015)Moonbuilding 2703 AD (2015)  If you missed my recent review of a promo copy of the album, tune in here!

Published in: on June 27, 2015 at 6:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

The Orb Returns with Moonbuilding 2703 AD!

Ten years since their last album on the Kompakt label, The Orb returns to Kompakt this month with their 13th album, Moonbuilding 2703 AD.

The Orb

The Orb – Thomas Fehlmann and Alex Paterson

Moonbuilding is hypnotic, engaging, and endlessly fascinating.  There is an ever-shifting spatial environment as an assortment of deep beats, dub rhythms, and indescribable microtonal sounds traverse the space between your ears.  There are no hooks or identifiable refrains on which a more passive listener could settle comfortably.  Instead the record is a cerebral adventure, whether you choose to explore it consciously and critically or just lose yourself in the entrancing future-tribal magic.

Moonbuilding_2703_AD

The pending Moonbuilding 2703 AD 

Like all of The Orb’s albums, it is thoughtful and reflective, but there are no peaceful, ambient epics to be found on Moonbuilding.  Still, the record does retain Paterson’s trademark natural, analog warmth.  Even his most cosmic and interstellar tracks have always maintained an organic quality sorely missing from much of the bleep-bloop techno of the last few decades.  Similar percussion is present on their newest album, though the wide-eyed energy of the LP is measurably greater than on any of their previous recordings.

But make no mistake about it – at no point does this approach hi-nrg 4-on-the-floor frat techno.  This is an immensely atmospheric record, rich with subtleties and nuances which make repeated listenings most rewarding.  This is, at its heart, proper German electronic music.  Thomas Fehlmann’s contributions are clearly evident as are all the influences of his present home city of Berlin.  If a listener is curious how The Berlin School of the late 1970s has evolved to the present day, the track “Lunar Caves” answers the question perfectly.

“Caves” is where Paterson’s work is most evident.  The song is guided more by classic, dub-inspired ambient rhythms than by heavy percussion and there is a brief but definite nod to Aphex Twin which fans will instantly detect.  If you’ve any doubt that The Orb is ideal for heady headphone listening, you’d do well to remember that this is the band who played chess live(!) on Top of the Pops for “The Blue Room” in 1992.

The Orb live Blue Room Top of the Pops

“Live” performance of “The Blue Room” on Top of the Pops, 1992

 In all, Moonbuilding 2703 AD marks a triumphant return for The Orb to the Kompakt label and demonstrates that these old boys still have what it takes to make outstanding and fresh new music.

The album is set for release June 23rd and available for preorder at kompakt.fm, as well as a 3LP+CD expanded edition which features a tribute to J Dilla.

Published in: on June 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

The Merits of Nostalgia and a Cozy Placebo Effect

And so it came to pass that my beloved McIntosh C39 pre-amp was not made happy by replacing the volume pot.  I’d decided in advance that if that didn’t fix it, I would cut my losses and consider, for the first time in my 30+ years, to explore the possibility of a brand new pre-amp/power amp combo.

My first McIntosh - a MAC 4280.  RIP 2013.

My first McIntosh – a MAC 4280.

I am fully aware of the tried-and-true code of the audiophile – quality vintage gear will generally out-perform and out-last newer contemporaries dollar-for-dollar.  But after repeatedly battling oxidation, bad resistors, and a few bad volume pots for the better part of three decades, I was ready to consider something new.

The Next Generation: My McIntosh C39 Pre-Amp (RIP 2014)

The Next Generation: My McIntosh C39

My life-long trusted audio adviser and best-friend tossed a few suggestions my way, namely the emotiva xsp-1, some newer Rotel models, and the most alluring of his suggestions – the Parasound Halo p3.  But for the interim, I had a local hi-fi shop tune up my Yamaha CR-840 – the first real amp I ever had.  Years ago channel A stopped working, and oxidation built up rending the amp nearly-unusable, but I’d never given it up, as it was a very special gift.  Thankfully the shop returned it to me the next day in PERFECT working condition!

I’d forgotten how great it sounded.  Please understand – I know it’s not remotely in the same class as some of the finer amps I’ve used, but the warm and familiar tone of this amp transports me back to college and all the memories attached to those years.  I completely acknowledge that this nostalgia trip is in no way a measure of the amp’s technical performance.  It is of no quantifiable measure an amp comparable to my MACs or, likely, to the Parasound amp.  But I will fully-embrace the head-trip it brings and am more than satisfied to use it until the right upgrade comes along.

Next up? Parasound Halo P3

Next up – Perhaps the Parasound Halo P3

To make the amp-swap official, I chucked the eyesore of a component rack that I’d picked up from a thrift shop.  30-seconds of Craigslist searching produced a nifty 60s record shelf for only a few bucks to serve as both a surface for the amp and as additional record storage.  Better still – the funky elderly couple selling it were ridiculously adorable and had mirrored-and-velvet-patterned wallpaper with matching decor all about their home.

Not kidding.  This... with mirrored panels.

Not kidding. This… with mirrored panels.

The shelf has a very “college” feel to accompany the amp, and the space was PERFECT to relocate all my LPs pressed between 1995 and the present.  All my favorites are in here – DJ Food, Boards of Canada, Lemon Jelly, DJ Shadow, The Orb, Underworld, Stereolab, Spiritualized, The KLF, St Germain, Bonobo, Aphex Twin, Cinematic Orchestra, Sigur Ros, Pantha Du Prince, Low, Beck, The FLips, with just enough room to sneak in nearly all of Brian Eno and Tom Waits’ albums.

The Nostalgia Corner

The Nostalgia Corner

This is as good a time as any to resolve to listen to more of my records in 2015 – to enjoy what I have instead of always searching for the next grail.

And there you have it – an objective and meticulous audiophile reduced to a nostalgic dolt by his trust old amp.  Think what you will, but I’ll be happy here, spinning some great tunes.

Eno & Hyde Postcards from their first two LPs

Eno & Hyde Postcards from their first two LPs

The History of Modern Ambient Music: Part 1 – 1973-1993

Hello friends!  My second video is now up on The Innerspace Connection’s Youtube channel – this is the first of a 2-part series showcasing milestone recordings of modern ambient music.

Here are the highlights of albums recorded between 1973 and 1993, presented in the order of their release.

Or click here for the HD version.

Treasures Untold

Between my recent motherboard failure and setting up the replacement PC my stepfather so generously donated to me, I’ve picked up a lot of vinyl that didn’t make it to my blog.  I thought I’d take a moment to highlight some of the better ones that I’ve neglected.

First, I found Funkadelic’s Electric Spanking of War Babies in NM shape at an antique shop.  It is another outstanding example of Pedro Bell’s artwork.

The next item I picked up was the first album to feature regenerative tape loops which Robert Fripp and Brian Eno dubbed ‘Frippertronics.’  The album is an ambient classic – No Pussyfooting.

Side A is the standout track at over 20 minutes in length, titled “The Heavenly Music Corporation.”

I insist on tracking down original pressings whenever possible, and I was lucky to find an extremely clean copy at a great price.

And thanks to my friend Brrrn and good timing at a flea market, two more early Eno recordings fell into my hands.  One was Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) – Eno’s second solo album and the other was a long-time favorite collaboration with Harold Budd titled Ambient 2 – Plateaux of Mirror.  Plateaux was one of my first digital ambient albums many years ago.

The next treasure is a deep cut, and one of historical significance.  I was exploring The Orb’s catalog and read about a curious track called “The Blue Room,” a 17 minute song which appeared on the album u.f.orb.  What I discovered was that the original single was in fact 40:00 long.

From Wiki:

The UK charts had recently decided that any release with more than 40 minutes of play would be classified as an album rather than single. The Orb thus decided to record a 39:57 version of “Blue Room” for a special release. “Blue Room” is the longest single to ever reach the UK charts, peaking at number eight.

If you have ANY interest in ambient house, you need to hear this song.

The last find in the spectrum of ambient music was a dollar bin neoclassical LP by David Lanz.  Nightfall is one of his best works.

There were several other discoveries including a number of Yes albums previously missing from my collection and Zappa’s Hot Rats which features wonderful contributions from Don Van Vliet.

Last but most certainly not least, I found a number of Sesame Street albums to add to my Jim Henson library.  It’s getting harder and harder to find ones I don’t already have, (over 40 at last count) so these were a treat.

The Ernie LP is extra special.  Mint in shrink, it includes some of my most beloved memories from the Street – “Rubber Duckie,” “Imagination,” “I Don’t Want to Live On The Moon,” and the hilarious “Dance Myself to Sleep.”

If only it featured “Put Down the Duckie” it would be my favorite Sesame record ever.  Sadly, that duet between Ernie and Hoots the Owl never made it to vinyl.

Here’s the video for “Dance Myself to Sleep.”  If you’re really savvy you might just catch the Andrews Sisters reference Ernie makes to a hit from 1941.  Watch for it!

KLF Rairities from Santa – the Albums That Spawned a Genre!

I got two more rarities for my KLF collection this Christmas, and an amazing story behind it!

KLF - Space and Chill Out 12-25-11
Copies of the legendary Chill Out LP are impossible to come by in the states, so my girlfriend’s mother ordered me a copy from Belgium for Christmas.  She later received the email in the above picture stating that the disc was destroyed at customs!  But the Christmas spirit was with this generous seller – he remedied the situation and made my holiday by shipping his own personal copy (in DEAD MINT condition) at no additional charge.  THANK YOU Sebastien!

About the albums –

These two recordings, released in 1990 are the first ever examples of ambient house.

Space was recorded by Jimi Cauty and Alex Paterson just after the release of The Orb’s single, “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld.”  It was intended to be The Orb’s debut album, but the duo split and Cauty released it under the name “Space.”  A large percentage of the copies that surface are bootlegs, but I was fortunate enough to pick up an original pressing.  Cauty simply describes Space as, “a record for 14 year old space cadets to go and take acid to for the first time.”

Chill Out is a milestone in the history of ambient music – the sound of a post-rave late night road trip from Texas to Louisiana recorded in one live take at Trancentral.  Like Space, it was in part a collaboration between the KLF and Alex Paterson, and was recorded in February of the same year.

Check out my favorite track from Chill Out – “Elvis On The Radio, Steel Guitar In My Soul.”

Look in the Back for Answers

Anyone who’s met me knows that I’m a big fan of Underworld. I’ve got 227 of their albums, singles and shows between the various incarnations of UW/Freur/Screen Gemz and Lemon Interupt, and I’m always looking for more.

For the uninitiated, Rick and Karl have been making music together in one form or another since 1979. They are best known for the club track “Born Slippy Nuxx” from the movie, Trainspotting. (This site’s name is actually lifted from the song’s lyrics.)

Well part of Underworld’s humble beginnings was the Welsh synth pop band, Freur. Their only hit was an odd track called, “Doot Doot.”

I was absolutely blown away when “Doot Doot” resurfaced out of nowhere after twenty years, appearing in the Palm Pre cell phone commercial last summer.


I apologize – that is the creepiest girl on the planet.

While I have Freur’s extended discography and videography in digital format, I’ve been fortunate to acquire several of their original LPs as well.

Freur - Doot Doot 12in promo“Doot Doot” 12″ single

Freur - Doot Doot album“Doot Doot” album

Freur - Doot Doot picture disc“Doot Doot” 7″ picture disc

Freur - Runaway (Dun Difrunt)“Runaway (Dun Difrunt)” single

Freur - Matters of the Heart 7"“Matters of the Heart” 7″ single

Today I ventured into both Record Theater stores in the Buffalo area. I wasn’t in the first shop for 60 seconds when I found this!

Freur - Look in the Back for Answers“Look in the Back for Answers” single

It was particularly surprising because Freur LPs don’t turn up in shops in the states very often, and when they do 90% of them are copies of “Doot Doot.”

The single also includes one of my favorite Freur rarities, “Hey Ho Away We Go.” As an added bonus it ends with “Uncle Jeof,” a collection of taped travelogue and jams from their European tour.

I’m still looking for two Freur treasures. Get Us Out of Here was their second and final LP, released only in the Netherlands. It included “Look in the Back for Answers” and a few other fan favorites. The other item is their soundtrack to the movie, Transmutations, aka Underworld – the Clive Barker film from which the group would later take their name.  This soundtrack is not commercially available but bootlegs are known to exist.

Copies of Get Us Out of Here can easily be picked up for around $15, so long as you’re willing to pay shipping from Lithuania, Denmark, Germany or France.

While in the shop I took note of a number of new releases which had escaped my radar these past few months, including the double-LP collaboration between the Orb and David Gilmour titled Metallic Spheres.  Now I’ve got an evening’s worth of albums to research!