There’s something gratifying about the way that The Orb‘s music has both progressed (in all senses of the word) and stayed within its own vaguely-defined parameters over the last quarter century. Pick any one of the tracks on History of the Future Part 2 or set it to shuffle play, and a certain number of slightly off-kilter vocal samples, blips, bloops and chunky shuffling beats from the second chapter of their trip are likely to emerge from the speakers, the only imponderable being just how much bass pressure they’re going to bring to the party along the way.From inner/outer space to the corners of a farmer’s field which be be forever raveland, The Orb are still ideally placed at the interface between ambient floating and festival-friendly dub techno as they’ve ever been, and here they bring forth a collection of odds, sods and bonuses from their twenty-first century output. At the core is Alex Paterson’s whimsical view of how to expand minds and set bodies grooving, whether stomping and swaying with glowsticks a-go-go on the dancefloor or sunk back languidly into the comfiest bean bag available to humanity with a lava lamp and a supply of munchies to hand to bathe deeply in the joys of electronic dance music at its most blissed out. Freed from the major-label pressures and restrictions of their association with Island Records (documented on the first instalment in the History of the Future series), The Orb — in this era mostly Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann , whose input is particularly evident on tracks like the far more minimal-sounding “Chuck’s Peaks”, for example– were able to stretch out and let rip with less commercial propositions. These included singles and albums released via Kompakt, Cooking Vinyl and of course Malicious Damage (whose connections to Paterson date from 1979, when he roadied for Killing Joke), many of which are represented here, including the profoundly blissed-out “Baghdad Batteries” from Orbsessions Volume III and the ruffneck rhythms of the likes of “Dirty Dancehall Dub, Unite 1”, while those who hanker after the fluffier side of the early ’90s Orb vibe will probably enjoy the sunset grooves of “Apple Tree” in its Abacus remix. Lee Perry appears on two tracks, “Fussball” (originally from More Tales From The Orbservatory, here in its “Deadbeats champions league remix”) and the OICHO remix of his take on “Little Fluffy Clouds” in “Golden Clouds” guise, as appearing on their collaborative album The Orbserver In The Star House. There’s massive amounts of low end to be found on “The Dream”, thanks in no small part to the contributions of Youth and Tim Bran from Dreadzone. “Prime Evil” and “Aftermath” are also fine examples of guaranteed window-shakers too, as are the sprightly “Vuja De” and ethereal dubwise boomer “Codes 8:13” and the immense skyscrapers of bass on “Tower Twenty-three” in its Spud vs Kreature mix. Other rarities include the original soundtrack to Alex Paterson and Mike Coles’ (of Malicious Damage) short movie “Battersea Bunches” alongside the video for David Harrow‘s remix of “Brixton to Harrow” from the same film, released on the C Batter C album and DVD set in 2010.
Add in a DVD of promo videos on the fourth disc of the CD boxed set, and overall History Of The Future Part 2 provides both the perfect way for casual listeners to catch up with what The Orb have been up to for the last little while, and for hardcore fans and completists to get hold of some otherwise unavailable, vinyl-only or tricky to find mixes and tracks.
-Antron S Meister-