About The Orb


The Orb are an English electronic music group founded in 1988 by Alex Paterson and The KLF member Jimmy Cauty. Beginning as ambient and dub DJs in London, their early performances were inspired by electronic artists of the 1970s and 1980s, most notably Brian Eno and Kraftwerk. Because of their psychedelic sound, the Orb developed a cult following among clubbers "coming down" from drug-induced highs. The Orb have maintained their drug-related science fiction themes despite personnel changes, including the departure of Cauty and members Kris Weston, Andy Falconer, Simon Phillips, Nick Burton, and Andy Hughes. Paterson has been the only permanent member, continuing to work as the Orb with Swiss-German producer Thomas Fehlmann and, later, with Martin "Youth" Glover, bassist of Killing Joke. Beyond recognition on their albums and concerts, his unauthorised use of other artists' works has led to disputes with musicians, most notably with Rickie Lee Jones.


During their live shows of the 1990s, the Orb performed using digital audio tape machines optimised for live mixing and sampling before switching to laptops and digital media. Despite changes in performance method, the Orb maintained their colourful light shows and psychedelic imagery in concert. These visually intense performances prompted critics to compare the group to Pink Floyd.


They released their fifteenth studio album, No Sounds Are Out of Bounds, on 22 June 2018 via Cooking Vinyl.


Alex Paterson began his music career in the early 1980s as a roadie for the post-punk rock band Killing Joke, for whom his childhood friend Martin "Youth" Glover played bass. After leaving Killing Joke in 1986, Paterson met future KLF member Jimmy Cauty and the duo began DJ-ing and producing music together under the name The Orb. Paterson and Cauty's first release was a 1988 acid house anthem track, "Tripping on Sunshine", released on the German record compilation Eternity Project One. The following year, the Orb released the Kiss EP, a four-track EP based on samples from New York City's KISS FM. It was released on Paterson and Glover's new record label WAU! Mr. Modo Records, which they created out of a desire to maintain financial independence from larger record labels. After spending a weekend of making what Paterson described as "really shit drum sounds", the duo decided to abandon beat-heavy music and instead work on music for after-hours listening by removing the percussion tracks. Paterson and Cauty began DJ-ing in London and landed a deal for the Orb to play the chill out room at London nightclub Heaven. Resident DJ Paul Oakenfold brought in the duo as ambient DJs for his "The Land of Oz" event at Heaven. Though the Orb's Monday night performances had only several hardcore followers initially, their chill-out room act grew popular over the course of their six-month stay to the point that the room was often packed with around 100 people. The Orb's performances became most popular among weary DJs and clubbers seeking solace from the loud, rhythmic music of the dancefloor. The Orb built up melodies using multitrack recordings linked to multiple record decks and a mixer. The group incorporated many CDs, cassettes, and BBC sound effects into the act, often accompanied with pieces of popular dance tracks such as "Sueño Latino". Though the group used a variety of samples, they avoided heavy rhythm and drums so that the intended ambient atmosphere was not disrupted. Most often, the group played dub and other chill-out music, which it described as ambient house for the E generation.


Throughout 1989 the Orb, along with Martin Glover, developed a music production style that incorporated ambient music with a diverse array of samples and recordings. The British music press later labelled the music ambient house. The culmination of the group's musical work came toward the end of the same year when they recorded a session for John Peel on BBC Radio 1. The track, then known as "Loving You," was largely improvisational and featured a wealth of sound effects and samples from science fiction radio plays, nature sounds, and Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You". For its release as a single on the record label Big Life, the Orb changed the title to "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld". Upon the single's release, Riperton's management forced Big Life to remove the unlicensed Riperton sample, ensuring that only the initial first-week release of the single contained the original vocals of Minnie Riperton; subsequent pressings used vocals from a sound-alike. Despite its running time of 22 minutes, the sample-laden single reached #78 on the British singles charts. Soon thereafter, the Orb were commissioned by Dave Stewart to remix his top-20 single "Lily Was Here". The group obliged and were soon offered several more remix jobs from artists including Erasure and System 7.


In 1990, Paterson and Cauty held several recording sessions at Cauty's studio, Trancentral. When offered an album deal by Big Life, the Orb found themselves at a crossroads: Cauty preferred that the Orb release their music through his KLF Communications label, whereas Paterson wanted to ensure that the group did not become a side-project of the KLF. Because of these issues, Cauty and Paterson split in April 1990, with Paterson keeping the name the Orb. As a result of the break-up, Cauty removed Paterson's contributions from the in-progress recordings and released the album as Space on KLF Communications. Also out of these sessions came the KLF album Chill Out, on which Paterson appeared in an uncredited role.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "The Orb", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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