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The Orb featuring Lee Scratch Perry – The Orbserver in the Star House

Cooking Vinyl

Ever since The Orb’s first album The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld you could almost feel that somewhere down the line this collaboration would take place. The Orb have always added dub themes to their music to add to the blissful wholeness of the dance experience and to get the people on the floor swaying in a technicolour other world of their own. On this album you get The Orb at their dubby best with one of the masters of the scene.

“Ball of Fire” literally kicks in the album with a big heavy bang where the bass and drums hang low under a grinding rhythm. Lee Perry’s vocals are suitably laid back over the pounding happening underneath him; then suddenly some blissed out Orb synth takes you somewhere else. “H.O.O” has a more house feel to it with a spacious sound that clicks along under some ‘visitor’ style lyrics from Perry. “Man in the Moon” is back too the deep bass sound which The Orb do so well. Alien synth patterns tweet over thundering drum rhtyms and the vocals start to get very spacey as the echo hits the cosmos. This is followed by another bass heavy monolith, “Soulman,” and after a drifting opening with some excellent Perry vocals the track begins to take off like a dub version of Sun Ra visiting Venus. Here again the use of echo becomes paramount to give the piece quite an ethereal feel.

“Golden Clouds” nods its head towards The Orb’s “Little Fluffy Clouds” by using its riff and builds into a psychedelic drifting wonderland of dancing sunsets and multi-coloured otherness. “Hold Me Upsetter” has a James Brown-style funk riff that slides along underneath some laid back bass and keeps a solid groove bubbling under Perry’s vocals. “Go Down Evil” features a grinding synth arpeggio before the big beat smacks in to take the track into more of a trance territory than has been previously heard so far, and this track has more of an early 90s early morning feel. “Thirsty” is another funky track picking up more of a 70s vibe but still adding enough of the dub to remove it from the norm and into its own sonic space. Perry delivers a fantastic dubwise vocal over the heavy spacious bass and drums of “Police and Thieves” while The Orb’s keyboards trickle and wobble over the top of this monster; the last two minutes of this are sublime. “Ashes” has what sounds like plucked instruments over an electronic beat for a track that feels like a short interlude before the final number. “Congo” starts as a heavenly synth drift before African-style rhythms begin to take over and push the track forward in a pounding of drums that carries its up river momentum until the end.

This album gets released on a double vinyl set and would be fantastic to hear all warm and analogue sounding. Here, yet again, The Orb push the boundaries of what they do and create their own universe within the grooves of the album. Perry’s performances are marvellous and the album takes you into the deep thud of the beyond.

-Gary Parsons-


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