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The Orb’s pulsating discography grows ever more huge, with their 18th album, and 3rd helmed by core duo Alex Paterson and Michael Rendall. Despite the connotations of its title, here they continue to rollick freely without inhibition across ambient, house and dub, but also tangent into poetry, pop, full-blown drum ‘n’ bass and actual reggae.
The LP features electronic musicians David Harrow (whose CV includes Anne Clarke, Psychic TV, Razormaid, Adrian Sherwood and Andy Weatherall) and Gaudi (whose credits include Max Romeo, Capleton, Johnny Clarke and Desmond Dekker). Other guests include Orb regular Youth, violinist Violeta Vicci, Kompakt records alumnus Leonardo Fresco, Metamono man Jono Podmore, Guitarist and Alex’s old schoolchum David Lofts, plus vocalists Eric Von Skywalker, Andy Cain and Rachel D’arcy. ‘Prism’ begins with the epic winding journey of ‘H.O.M.E’, which features a poem by Paterson, and traverses through dark ambient into star-surfing Fingers-style house, before ‘Why Can You Be In Two Places At Once…’ kicks into a funked-up, afrobeaty chug.
With Paterson’s decades-long love for Jamaican music and output oft drenched in the dubwise, it should come as little surprise that The Orb have now gone full reggae, on the ebullient nostalgia tale of Von Skywalker’s youthful romance, ‘A Ghetto Love Story’. The album then disappears down a wormhole of rubadub head-music called ‘Picking Tea & Chasing Butterfiles’, which sounds like Colourbox meets Popul Vuh in Shanghai, and also echoes back to Weatherall’s Ultrabass II remix of ‘Perpetual Dawn’.
Flipping the script entirely, by sprinkling a large bag of disco dust, is the slinky boogie wonderland of ‘Tiger’ (the name and nickname of Paterson’s son and late brother respectively), which juxtaposes but somehow coheres with the melodica-tinged thunderous bass music of ‘Dragon Of Oceans’ and it’s Sirius B gazing wordplay. The expertly-executed, floaty 90s trance dance of ‘The Beginning Of The End’ works very nicely within its own familiar parameters; which contrasts sharply with ‘Living In Recycled Times’, which ignites over ten plus minutes into fully-fledged, rave-ready D&B fire, which although out of their comfort zone still sounds very Orb.
Music for the ‘Prism’ of your mind, the album ends with its title track – a big ambient epic in done in fine style – as awe inspiring as the cold, infinite expanse from whence it came.
Barry says: There are few bands making electronica today that have a more profound impact on afterparty culture than The Orb do, mostly owing to their perfectly manicured mix of euphoric acid, crisp dub and otherworldly melodies. 'Prism' has all of that in spades, moving effortlessly from dancefloor to the sofa and everything in-between. Classic Orb.
2. ‘Why Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All’
3. ‘A Ghetto Love Story’
4. ‘Picking Tea Leaves & Chasing Butterflies’
6. ‘Dragon Of The Oceans’
7. ‘The Beginning Of The End’
8. ‘Living In Recycled Times’