100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #39

The Orb – The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
Originally posted 2008:

From nearly every angle you looked at it, though promising, if there was one thing electronica was not, it was fun. This album however harbours samples of Flash Gordon, tampered-with Bible verses and chickens clucking. At last The Orb had arrived! And as for this, their debut? Oh, it’s absolute bliss! It’s a true journey; melodic synth lines, mid-tempo rhythms, bizarre speach samples and an arsenal off BBC and NASA sound effects; in 1991, The Orb created a masterpiece that is as electrifying as it is sedating. The album is, in a sense, split into four parts (on 2 discs). The first three on each disc are groovy, absorbing spacey techno. The last two on each disc are sprawling ambient pieces which take you places you’ve always wanted to go, but had never known existed. It all starts with the pulsating ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ with its warped, bubbling synth melodies and a stoned-sounding Rickie Lee Jones talking about her childhood. Then ‘Earth (Gaia)’ lowers you down into a faux-mysterious trip with background gabbles in Lithuanian and wonky bass lines. On both discs however, the highlights every time are the concluding ambient pieces. The beautifully extraterrestrial ‘Back Side Of The Moon’ (a thinly veiled Pink Floyd reference) puts you in the position of a satellite flying out of orbit and drifting through oblivion; then ‘Spanish Castles In Space’ slowly eases in like a perfect dream on a train through the British countryside. The ambient pieces on the second disc begin with ‘Star 6 & 7 8 9′ which is like a motorbike ride on a misty country road at 6AM; but it’s the very last track that elevates this album even higher. Long by name and nature, ‘A Hugh Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld’ is a 19 minute slice of pure genius consisting a smooth riff which continues throughout the song while the rest of the mix takes you on a journey on a rough sea with fragments of the 20th Century drifting past you like shipwrecks.

Listen to: A Huge Ever-Growing…


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