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The Orb- The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld

February 24, 2008

One of the first Intelligent Dance Music albums to tear through the club scene, English electronic duo The Orb’s ambitious debut, The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, sounds as fresh as it did back in 1991. This may be because it’s influence is widespread, or possibly because it’s vintage portrayal of space age psychedelia is of the classic breed that forever runs parallel to the passing of time. The Orb take the kitschy concepts of movies with flying saucers and giant starfish aliens and douses them in lysergic acid diethylamide until they can’t remember what bore them. The resulting album is one that can be had fun with as much as taken seriously, and is as abrasive as it is relaxing. This is the classic contradiction of IDM, but it is a contradiction that The Orb utilizes to the utmost. They capitalize on atmosphere just as much as club friendly beats. The opening Little Fluffy Clouds just might be the most lovable and sexy. It is the start of a grand journey, and after the opening cock-a-doodle-doo, the listener is transported up into the stratosphere, past planes, funky synthesizers, and fun vocal samples. Just about every song is similarly fascinating and unique. I can only imagine what listening to this album on drugs would be like. I would think it would begin to sound like the holy grail of modern music, but to the sober ear, some of the sound effects are no more than appreciably silly. This, however, does not stop the better effects from being downright amazing. The album hits its atmospheric highpoint with Backside of the Moon, a slow progression of eastern beats infused with a floaty backdrop of running water, twinkling stars, and strange vocal samples. One would think with high points like this, the album just couldn’t be consistently awesome, but it is, and even into the second disk, the songs have surprising clarity, such as the reggae infused Perpetual Dawn, and the gloriously energetic Into The Fourth Dimension. However, the albums conclusion, A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld, is the most interesting of all, and the perfect way to end. It needs to be heard to be believed. After listening to The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, you have traveled millions of miles, and seen things that no one has ever seen. Err, maybe. At the very least, you have gotten about as close to being high as you have ever gotten without actually ingesting or snorting something illegal. And you have also heard probably the best IDM album this side of Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and I would say also the sexiest album of all time.

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