The Orb


The Orb - U.F.Orb ©1992 Big Life/Mercury
CD one:
1. O.O.B.E.
2. U.F.Orb
3. Blue Room
4. Towers Of Dub
5. Close Encounters
6. Majestic
7. Sticky End
CD two:
1. Blue Room (edit)
2. Blue Room (remix)
3. Assassin (The Oasis Of Rhythms Mix)
4. Blue Room (full Length)

Perhaps I should have realized it at once, but the first sign that the relationship between my former girlfriend and me wouldn’t work out was the fact that she didn’t like The Orb.

Everyone (or at least every serious music collector) has a disc like U.F.Orb. You bought it on the band’s reputation alone, fully intending to give it a good listening at some point, but the right time never quite arrived... And then the day came, months later, when you threw it in your player and promptly kicked yourself for ignoring this gem of an album for so long. This, gentle reader, is one of those albums.

Hot damn tamale, this is one hell of a disc. In this reviewer’s humble opinion, it’s the veritable definition of what ambient dub should be. The six first tracks, only one of which clocks in under 10:27, are stylistically similar, starting out slowly with apparently random noises and samples that gradually coalesce into a coherent song structure (read: each track has a steady beat) with peculiar sound effects seamlessly blended into the mix, before slowly degenerating into oblivion. The seventh track is more along the lines of later Orb releases, being more a soundscape than a song. For the most part, U.F.Orb avoids this self-indulgent trap and treats the listener to a chillin’ 73:57 ride through the laid-back, groovy world of ambient dub.

“Assassin”, the lone original track on Disc Two, is an enjoyable, propulsive number that thumps along faithfully. The other three-fourths of Disc Two is devoted to mixes of one of the first disc’s most notable tracks, “Blue Room”. Although the first and second tracks are worthwhile, the fourth track, the full-length version, is particularly noteworthy on two grounds. First, this cut allows bandleader LX Paterson to display his considerable skills on the soundboard to full effect as the track meanders from seemingly haphazard cacophony to thumping beats and back again, somehow never losing internal coherence. Second, it is extremely long - forty minutes, to be precise.

My recommendation? Dim the lights, settle down in a soft chair, put on U.F.Orb, and groove.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 08/2000

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