The many members of The Orb’s loose collective have been fluid over the years, with Alex Paterson remaining the only constant throughout. A West Norwood resident, and punk and acid house veteran, Paterson’s career in music started in the early 1980s as a roadie for Killing Joke, for whom his childhood friend, Martin ‘Youth’ Glover, played bass.
After leaving the Killing Joke crew in ‘86, Paterson met future KLF member Jimmy Cauty, and the duo began DJing together as The Orb. Eventually, the pair launched a residency in the chill-out room of legendary London club night The Land of Oz, where they forged a sonic-tapestry style of DJing, encompassing a wide and esoteric range of sounds, mixed into a cerebral melange aimed as an alternative to main room dancefloor energy.
In 1988, Patterson and Youth put together the acid house/Balearic label called WAU! Mr. Modo Records, and by 1990 the friends had released the bonafide classic “Little Fluffy Clouds,” which borrowed a sample from Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, and transported it to another dimension.
Since then The Orb have released 17 studio albums and countless EPs, singles, compilations, live recordings, remixes, and dubs. Their huge influence on today’s electronic music landscape cannot be understated.
Their latest album, Abolition Of The Royal Familia — out March 27th on Cooking Vinyl — is being hailed as a return to the inspirational ideas and characteristics of their seminal debut LP Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld.
Selected by Paterson, the chart below highlights some of the sounds that influenced the new record, which is also loosely linked in the same thread of styles and textures that runs throughout The Orb’s long and illustrious history.
ACTRESS – Paint, Straw & Bubbles [Honest Jon’s Records]
Music from the future — dense and sparse. This a dark howler from the master of the palace. Beautifully heavy with no prisoners. The title says it all too. I like bubbles in music, The Orb loves this.
Mr. Fingers – Beyond The Clouds [Trax Records]
Classic tune from the forgotten godfather of house music. They just don’t make them like this anymore. To recreate this isn’t what we were looking for, it’s in the arrangement and the dance floor.
Cerrone – Supernature [Atlantic Records]
Made in the ‘70s , still played in the ‘20s. That song has been sampled (we didn’t) and played in the funkiest surroundings on planet earth. We saw the emptiness and tried to recreate those dimensional frequencies in the 5th elementary school of funk.
Brian Eno – An Ending [Primal Recordings]
Seriously chill-pill music, it’s on the Apollo album featuring Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno. It’s the space between tracks that make it a pure A1 tune — been listening to this forever and there’s different versions on Music For Films, which never came out in the UK. Probably never see the light of day on here either. Try record shops, they even smell nice & sleazy.
J Dilla (feat. D’angelo & Common) – So Far to Go [Rapster Records]
J Dilla wrote as if a conduit to the almighty and the masses. How can anybody not be influenced by J Dilla? Andy Caine sings like a minimal Common vocal on the track “House of Narcotics.” J Dilla can also send shivers down your back on this wonderful piece of Muzik .
Super T. – Westbound D Train [Wackies]
Westbound dub chemist, you taking the westbound D train to Zion me lion? Dubbed up and you’re transported to the blue mountains of Jamaica; the real old dub sounds of late-night blues and dancehall sessions, like Gaudi in full affection on say cheese, which was based on the Jamaican dub sound. Where’s Eric Von SKYWALKER?
Basic Channel – Q1.1 [Basic Channel]
This is all about the sound in the spaces. It’s a gem of a record and it can lead you to the Basic Channel catalogue. Then there’s Main Street Recordings, where you might find Andy Caine singing “I’m your brother,” Andy Caine in the singer on Daze.
Joy Division – Atmosphere [Warner Bros. Records]
Martin Hannett produced this wonderful track from a band I love so much. A+ pop song at its darkest yet so melancholy. Walking on air, a beautifully controlled bass line that’s sexy and warm. Distant guitars so soft. As I said before, I love this tune.
Leandro Fresco – Buenos Amigos [Kompakt]
Leandro has been releasing music on the pop ambient label on Kompakt. This is a beautiful piece that should be played as post-birth music — it’s so soft even a baby could sleep to it. Think of a timeless planet in the mists of times not known. This is it.
Cloud One – Atmosphere Strut (Part 1 & 2) [P&P Records]
Straight out of the era of 98.7FM, 92KTU and Solar I, pure hypnotic disco with the drifting blissed-out feel that rocks our boat in The Orb’s sphere. Underground disco at its best and funkiest. “we’re gonna fly!” they sing — blimey you can! Long live the early ‘80s.