Koko, London, 21 September 2006
Original cut and paste specialists The Orb took Pink Floyd-style
psychedelia, Brian Eno's gentle ambient blueprint and threw
in monstrous dub basslines, house beats and a multitude
of obscure, often humourous samples to create a richly textured
Alex Paterson and his various
collaborators broke new ground with debut double album Adventures
Beyond The Ultraworld in 1991, hit number one with follow
up UFOrb and famously played chess on Top of the Pops when
their near-forty minute single Blue Room broke the top ten.
years on since that debut and with electronic music having
evolved, splintered and reformed over that time, can 'Dr'
Alex and co. still cut the musical mustard?
cohort Thomas Fehlmann walks on stage to get things started
with what appears to be a DJ set, playing a techno-flecked
set interspersed with deep house that stomps so hard and
goes down so well you wonder how a set of ambient house
could successfully follow it. That is until the realisation
dawns on people that this is actually The Orb's live performance.
(self-titled, unqualified) Dr Alex Paterson joins Fehlmann
to whoops from the crowd and, after placing some flowers
on stage and removing the hankie from his head, they pump
out some drifting ambience. The humourous samples are still
intact with a forties film skit wafting in to the mix and
spoken word sample of "Come on Barbie, let's go party"
emerging briefly from the aural soup as a cue to big-screen
visuals of the putrid plastic princess.
there are off-beat bleeps and deep dub basslines and the
odd reminder of the reason ambient, and with it The Orb's
wider popularity, disappeared up its own self-indulgent
exhaust pipe with some directionless meandering at times.
Overall there is very little ambient about the duo's set
as it bumps and bangs along, the beats getting harder as
crowd are baying for the old material to be aired with one
man shouting, "Play some of your own fucking records!",
at one point, albeit with a smile on his face. It goes unheard
though as different tracks, few of which are The Orb's original
material it seems, are spliced, diced and injected into
the mix. The Pet Shop Boys' It's Alright
briefly drifts into earshot before Little Fluffy Clouds
is played, much to the delight of the crowd. The teasing
continues, however, as even this gets filtered, mixed in
and out while an anti-war march forms the visual backdrop.
This is hardly chilled but the overall reaction is still
sample of Minnie Riperton's Lovin' You
introduces A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules
From The Centre of The Ultraworld which is offered a similar,
storming kick-drum treatment as Fehlmann leaves the stage.
It may be another uptempo take on a chilled classic but
it still gets the goosebumps going.
was more a DJ set, perhaps akin to The Orb's beginnings
at London club Heaven's Land Of Oz nights, than a gig, which
may have left expectant fans frustrated but Paterson and
Fehlmann carried it off with some style. Besides, they may
be getting tired of playing the same old tunes a decade
and a half down the line. As a gig it was disappointing
but as a night out it was far from it. Not quite what the
doctor ordered though.
- Ian Roullier, 09/2006