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Orb, The

Entry updated 21 August 2012. Tagged: Music.

UK electronic music act, founded by Alex Paterson (1959-    ) and Jimmy Cauty (1956-    ) and at present (after various personnel changes) comprising Paterson and Swizz-born Thomas Fehlmann (1958-    ). The Orb's atmospheric, often playfully evocative, ambient music takes much of its inspiration from science fiction. Their first, and best, album was The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991), which maps out its titular cosmic journey with instrumental music that is by turns spacious, evocative and quirkily witty, from "Little Fluffy Clouds" in Earth's atmosphere, past the moon to a "Supernova at the End of the Universe", therefrom "Into the Fourth Dimension" and ultimately reaching (to quote the title of the last, and best, track on the album) "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From the Centre of the Ultraworld". A follow up album, U.F.Orb (1992) continued the ambient dance textures of the first album, whilst also foregrounding the group's persistent fascination with UFOs and alien encounter. Samples from NASA recordings and a series of peculiar alien noises augment the music. Subsequent albums followed a more whimsical and less focused route: Pomme Fritz (1994) musically doodles around a food theme, Orbus Terrarum (1995) a series of earthbound geographical observations, and Orblivion (1997) is without obvious focus, although this last work at least contained the group's attractively kinetic remix of Jean Michel Jarre's "Oxygene". When Jarre disowned this version, the Orb renamed it "Toxygene" and, to Jarre's chagrin, released it as a successful single. A number of lesser albums followed. [AR]


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