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The Orb (live at The Oslo Club)

The Orb at The Oslo Club March 2015London
13 March 2015

Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future.

H G WellsThe Time Machine

The Orb are celebrating 25 years of making music that has headed for the outer reaches and then spiralled back to Earth again. Seeing as the band normally play at fairly large venues, it’s good to see them in the intimate surroundings of The Oslo Club, even if there is a yellow line on the floor around the stage that no one is allowed to step over. A bouncer watches this space intently, as if by crossing it you are breaking into some neutral zone found on Star Trek.

The Orb at The Oslo Club March 2015

A big cheer goes up as Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann take the stage and spacey visuals begin to play behind them. They stand like spaceship captains at the banks of controls of some star cruiser heading out into the cold universe. But tonight we don’t get the ambient chill of The Orb of old (or certainly when I first saw them back in 1991), but a harder-edged, more beats-oriented, techno-sounding Orb.

The sound at the venue is great: it’s loud and pounding and when the bass hits in the the dance floor vibrates like it’s about to split in two. Paterson and Fehlmann move to the rhythms as they adjust sounds and noises to what turns into a monumental progressive-length track. How much of the sound or track is improvised is hard to tell, but the duo are certainly taking cues from each other as the track slips between high octane and deep bass throb.

The Orb at The Oslo Club March 2015

A dramatic reworking of “Little Fluffy Clouds” gets the audience moving, but this is no tripped-out, spaced-up Nineties version, but a harder-edged beat track with elements of the original happening over the top like an ever-evolving planet. Visuals cascade across the screen and combined with the music it makes for an intoxicating experience. I do slightly mourn the more ambient wig-outs that would send you off into the stratosphere before bringing you downwards with a big bass throb though. But The Orb are an ever-moving creative unit that doesn’t rest upon its laurels, and pushes its sound further with each new release and each show they undertake.

The Orb at The Oslo Club March 2015

Tonight’s set promotes what The Orb does best (as well as launching their second History of the Future collection), that is get the crowd dancing and taking them off-world on a cold late winter’s evening, reminding them that languid summer days are just around the corner. When they finally come to a halt, it does feel as if the crowd would like them to play all night as the last bass note rumbles through your body.

The Orb are celebrating 25 years, celebrate with them this year and dance till dawn in a joyous celebration of the universe and all things that are wonderful about their ever-growing, pulsating music.

-Words: Gary Parsons-
-Pictures: Dave Pettit-

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