The Orb have transformed themselves from ambient, Eno-esque knob twiddlers into rampaging, hardcore beat terrorists. Or have they? Words: Jim Byers
The Orb’s seventh album ()rblii'ion is a typically ‘Orb-ish’ creature in the same way that the previous six were peculiarly ‘Orb-ish’ creatures. ‘lt’s Andy. Alex and Thomas music.’ offers Andy Hughes. one third of The Orb. when asked to describe the new material. ‘We’re supposed to have reinvented ourselves.‘ he laughs. ‘But all we did was go into the studio and have a laugh. We didn’t have a plan — there was no great (adopts mad voice) master-plan. None of it was deliberate.’
In other words. ()rblivimz isn’t quite the new direction that some would have you believe. rather it’s another fine example of ‘Orb-ishness’. in the great Orb tradition. There’s no great new Orb sound per .90. just a great new Orb album which. if anything. is another distinct exploration of modern electronica. If indeed there is one difference to The Orb sound (and yes. it is more uptempo in places. most notably on the recent single ‘Toxygene’). it will manifest itself in their forthcoming live shows. So. if you’re looking for the mythical beast that is the ‘new Orb’ then you’d best head down to a gig.
‘People don’t want to go out to clubs and sit on the floor anymore.‘ acknowledges Hughes. in reference to what used to be a common occurence at Orb ‘events’. ‘It used to get a bit off-putting when we were playing live and people would get up and go to the bar halfway through when we were just getting really into it. I suppose now we want to make it more fun for us and more fun for the audience. lt’s
People don't want to go out to clubs and sit on the floor anymore. It used to get a bit off- putting when we were playing live and people would get up and go to the bar halfway through when we were just getting really into it. Andy Hughes
g ) “V A_ 0" ‘ ' \‘ ‘4»...1.’
The Orb: bacofoil is in, audiences sitting on their arses is out
supposed to be fun really. isn’t it?’
Although the UK has been an Orb-free zone for the past two years. following the release of l995’s sprawling epic Orbvs Terrarvm. the band have in fact been extremely busy. Patterson has continued his pre-Orb career as a globe-trotting DJ. once playing Auckland. New Zealand and San Fransisco on the same day. thanks to a combination of fast planes and strange time zones. He also, Hughes says, found time to clean out his terrapins. Hughes took time out to look after his newborn baby while the third and final ﬂoating Orb member. Thomas Tehlmann. concentrated on his Flow techno project in his native Berlin.
That aside. The Orb have been off doing what most of the rock fraternity have been unable to do — conquering America. ‘Half the reason we decided to go on tour in America was because we weren’t llavour of the day here anymore.’ explains Hughes. ‘The difference between here and there. is that over here you tend to get compared to what you’ve done in the past as opposed to what you’re currently doing. ’
Now The Orb are ‘big’ in America. Which can. of course. mean one of two things: either you’re big here and in America (Spice Girls) or you’re a total flop here and big in America (Bush). Luckily for The Orb. they’re more Spice Girl than Bush. They’ve long since ticked the box marked ‘cult status’ on the grounds that they managed the impossible by making ambient music interesting. They’ve also found themselves being championed in America by MTV and fortuitously lumped in with the current crop of British dance bands headed by Underworld. Orbital and The Prodigy.
‘lt’s a whole new thing for them out there,’ continues Hughes. ‘We’ve had a scene over here for over ten years now but they’ve never had anything like it before — which is great in a way because it’s like starting from scratch again.’
The Orb play Barrowland, Glasgow. Thurs 20 Mar.
preview MUSIC Bigmouth
More musical musings on the meaning of love, life and other stuff.
'You've got to understand Armageddon is a catastrophe but it's also a great cleansing process. You've got to get into it with a spirit of adventure.’
Kula Shaker’s Crispian ’mad as a snake' Mil/s looks forward to world devastation with a grin in his heart, a smile on his lips and more than a smattering of the pioneering spirit that made Britain great. Or he’s just gone off on one again.
'By the time I'd signed my record contract I'd been played on Radio One 22 times. Without a label, promotion or plugging! And then I find that most labels spend £8000 a week on trying to get one play!’ Jyoti Mishra, the man behind the Number One hit, 'YOur Woman’, cocks a well-deserved snoot at the machinations of the biz.
'I made a conscious effort not to show any emotion because I’d been hurt enough. I remember walking through the halls of high school making a conscious effort not to show any emotion and I did that for so many years.’
E of the Eels gives lessons in how to be an indie popstar. Step one: have a tragic adolescence.
'When you run out of weed, people start drinking. You start drinking a cocktail of drinks all day and you're just loud without realising it. You think everybody's partying with you but they're not.‘
Cast’s John Power recounts that sinking feeling.
The fucking energy and the angst and the skull with the snake coming out of it - the stinking smell and the negative minus. The minus was kicked out of the fucking room and a grand vacuum went behind it.’ Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler talks about their new album, Nine Lives. Or something.
'Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.’
Spice Girl Mel C show no sign of jet-lag as she throws down the gauntlet to Liam Gallagher after hearing that he was tempted to chin the plucky chartbusters.
'We all get jet-lagged and tired but I feel we're battling for Britain.’
Geri Spice reveals her true blue patriotism at the Brit awards.
7—20 Mar 1997 "IE UST 37