Podcast 647: The Orb


Dreamy ambient and throbbing dub from Alex Paterson.

We’re publishing this mix a week later than our usual Tuesday slot, in observance of “Blackout Tuesday.” It comes from The Orb, or more accurately Alex Paterson, who has been the music group’s only constant since its ’80s formation. In the decades since, Paterson has been joined by various collaborative cohorts, most recently Michael Rendall, who brings a refreshed and ebullient morale to Abolition of the Royal Familia, The Orb’s 17th album, available now via Cooking Vinyl.

The Orb pioneered the ambient house genre. They got their start when Paterson began DJing with Jimmy Cauty, launching a residency in the chill-out room of London club night “The Land of Oz.” Their style, a sonic-tapestry encompassing slowed down Chicago house and an esoteric range of sounds, appealed to early morning London ravers, who sought the soulful rhythms as nearby clubs began closing their doors.

It’s a style that Paterson has carried over into The Orb’s production, which took flight with 1991. Multiple successful albums (their second, U.F. Orb, topped the UK albums chart), affiliations with Island Records and Kompakt, and collaborations with the likes of David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Lee “Scratch” Perry have established The Orb as one of electronic music’s most enduring and defining musical acts.

Abolition of the Royal Familia forms the second part of No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds, released in 2018. In part inspired by and in retrospective protest of the royal family’s historical endorsement of the East India Company’s opium trade, it’s once again rooted in deep ambiance and cerebral, throbbing dub, but this time with a distinctly pop element.

In the album’s celebration, Paterson has compiled one of his special ambient sets. Spanning two hours in length, it incorporates a wide array of samples and sound effects, mixed under the music of some of his favorite musicians past and present. He recorded it one afternoon during a busy lockdown period, completely on the fly.

01. How has lockdown been for you?

Surprisingly busy. I’ve had to deal with people passing away, but we’ve had births in the family, too. My cousin who lives in Turkey had a little baby boy in April, and just before lockdown my partner became a grandma and I became a step-grandad, to a beautiful baby girl called Aria. It would be great to see them all again soon. My mother’s old house flooded recently, but luckily we had house insurance. Phew. How was your lockdown?

02. What music have you been listening to during this period?

With WNBC London, we have a radio station on which I’ve been playing 24- and 12-hour sets. From ambient to AM-bience and reggae to dub, with house and techno as a backbone. At home, I listen to other people’s shows on WNBC. The station has no news, no time checks no adverts—just good old fashioned soul (and no heavy metal allowed).

03. Where and when did you record this mix?

At the truly amazing book and record bar in West Norwood, South London. It was sometime in April, but the shop closed to the public. I was socially distanced. This a safe mix mate!

04. What equipment did you use to record it?

Pioneer 800 mixer, two pioneer CDJs, and a couple of Technics 1210s.

05. How did you choose the records that you’ve included?

Pot luck! The more stoned I am, the better choices I make.

06. What’s on your horizon this year?

A new label featuring new artists from New York, Los Angeles, and Munich, and new remixes of the recent Orb album, Abolition Of The Royal Familia. I have four more albums nearly ready too and hopefully we’ll tour next year. Be safe, and never forget black lives matter. There’s no plan b, and we have the power to change now. Be cool. Don’t be no fool.


via XLR8R


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