Planet of sound
He was the man behind Bassomatic, he runs Guerilla studios, he has remixed Madonna, he’s currently remixing Peter Gabriel. He is William Orbit and he’s trying to explain to Calvin Bush the rationale behind Strange Cargo 11], his latest multi-media foray into dance music’s furtherest frontiers.
Higher than the sun . . . way, way beyond the dark side of the moon . . . floating in the realm of inter- galactic spatial infinity. is a traveller taking in all that he sees. hears. feels and beaming back his communications as cosmic sound-tracks. In space. this man can hear your dreams and he‘s determined to lay them out before you in all their multi-hued mellifluous glory. You‘ll wish you were there. He‘ll make you wish you were there. Prrp. Prrp. Occupants of earth calling inter-planetary long-distance. Looking for a Mr William Orbit.
‘Yeah. hi. l‘mjust working on the Beth Orton LP. We‘ve got to get it finished by tonight 'cos tomorrow I'm working on remixing Peter Gabriel's new single. Deadline crunch. y‘know, got me in its vice-like grip.‘ Contact established.
It‘s been a while since we last heard from our biospheric Bill. A couple of remixes — Madonna‘s ‘Erotica'. Aborigines Yothu Yundi's ‘Treaty' — but since the simpering implosion of the second Bassomatic album Science And Melody. that heralded their demise. things have been quiet. ‘Til now.
This week. he steps out of his tardis cum self- financed Guerilla studios and proffers up the fruits of his voyage — the third instalment of his ongoing
sounds. textures and mood-food experiment: Strange ('argo.
‘The irony of it is that it wasn't done within the framework of a record deal.‘ is his explanation as to why it's on exactly the same label as Bassomatic. ie Virgin. ‘But when you've got a studio you tend to do tracks anyway and l was expecting to get dropped along with everyone else.'
Sensiny he wasn‘t. Virgin allowed him to continue with what they perceive d as ‘a kind of side project‘ to Bassomatic and in return he handed them an album. an accompanying video for seven of the tracks. and. in forthcoming single ‘Water From A Vine Leaf'. his finest piece of morning-glory dance
groove since ‘Fascinating Rhythm’. Virgin, in their
efﬁng ineffable wisdom. replied by refusing to press up Strange Cargo III on vinyl.
‘Most record people think music that doesn’t have any vocals on it should be in a specialist instrumental ghetto, and it’s a marginalised thing. I don’t believe it myself. But that‘s how they perceived it, and they're the ones who market the stuff.’ is Orbit’s shrug of acceptance.
Fine. but Strange Cargo Ill not only has immensely sensual smouldering vocals throughout. it’s also a perfect pre, mid and post-club collection. Dance
‘lt’s a whole new dimension, it’s like colourful, it’s like images . . . music is such a directly emotional . . . it’s so primal, but you need to have images, visuals to really really grab people.’
factor ten, my fellow beat commandos.
‘Actually. it‘s whatever turns you on when you're doing it. There‘s no kind of. like, directionality about it. It just goes there. I do agree with you, though. Wherever it goes. if it goes into the dance area, then any record company should have the flexibility to exploit that.“
Like the album, the simultaneously released video shot on location in Mexico. Portugal and Asia, is part of Orbit's impulsive need to explore all mediums available. After all this is the man who was creating ambient dub scenarios long before The Orb were even on the launch-pad for lift-off. So is the video tie-in an area in which he foresees expanding interest?
‘Deﬁnitely. What, it’s £12.99 for a video and it‘s so much more than a record. It’s a whole new dimension. it‘s like colourful. it’s like images . . . music is such a directly emotional . . . it‘s so primal. but you need to have images. visuals to really really grab people. And I think once people latch onto the possibilities of this format. there‘s gonna be an explosion.‘
For end-of—the-millennium innovators like Orbit, the ﬁnal frontier exists only to be pushed back further. Far out and gone.
C I), cassette and video ( but not vinyl) versions of Strange Cargo 1]] are available now on Virgin Records.
Origin of the species
What’s it all about then? ‘Urban Species tunnel through barriers of language to create a cosmos of basic rhythms that can be understood by anyone, rap purist or the totally uninitiated.’ llrrrright. And here’s me thinking the latest lights on Talkin Loud were just a cut-above-the- average rap crew, splicing in be-bop lazz chintziness in a Dream Warriors-
55 The List 9—22 April I993
tastic kinda way. So Peter, aka Mint, you’re this Tottenham trio’s rapper. This ‘Urban
Species - The Philosophy’, this barrier- tunnelllng debacle - what’s it all about? Pause. ‘Yeah, yeah . . .’ Laugh. ‘Well yeah, you know . . .’ Laughter. Fits thereof. ‘Em, yeah, we tunnel
Cut the flippancy. Urban Species’ first single, the limited edition DJ promo of ‘The Ropes (Tricks Of The Trade)’, is a sloganeering lesson in street-sussed self-empowerment. ‘Gotta know the highs gotta know the lows, gotta know your friends gotta know your foes . . .’ Give, take, love, hate, wrong, right, run, light, so it goes. Tight, vaguely trite, rhymes, but rolled out over a cool jazz mix that Mint rightly reckons is ‘leftfleld, man, that’s something else . . .’
‘The live mix is called The Pilgrim Mlx because it starts off with a really deep lazz piece, then It goes into a 703 funk theme, and ends up with a dub thing. That’s what we’re talking about, a pilgrimage, you go somewhere, you end up somewhere.’
This, and Mlnt’s bl-llngual duet with French rapper Mc Solaar on Urban Species’ summer-due album, promise to propel their progress more than any cock-eyed philosophlslng. Forget the rhythmic cosmos golf and go with the flow. (Craig McLean)
Urban Species appear with fellow Talkln loud act Bryan Powell at The Tunnel, Glasgow, on Tues 20. The llopes (Tricks Of The Trade) is released on 10 May.