The Orb featuring Lee Scratch Perry: ambient minimal house and the godfather of dub
September 4, 2012 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Though it might sound like a marriage made by management,* but the collaboration between The Orb and Lee "Scratch" Perry on The Orbserver in the Star House has been widely praised for unfettered vitality that is not always achieved when legends from different genres meet in the studio, as a proper collaboration between the 75 year old godfather of dub and veteran ambient electronica stalwarts, complete with a nod to 1991 with Golden Clouds. Hold Me Upsetter was the first track released from the album, and you can listen to the whole album on Soundcloud.

* It seems Dr. Alex Paterson wasn't too happy with that interview, so he might have been less verbose than normal.

Lee Perry, on the other hand, did not dissapoint in his interview with The Quietus. For another taste of Perry, here's an interview with The Guardian regarding 50 years of Jamaican Independence.
posted by filthy light thief (39 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
I've been so excited about this that i've been afraid to listen to it.
posted by dubold at 1:26 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I am not at all sure anything can live up to the unreasonably high expectations I have for this. I might just listen to Wham instead.
posted by elizardbits at 1:30 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

It is actually pretty good stuff, and it has apparently been in the works for years. It started as a few tracks by Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann, then Perry joined them and provided more material and inspiration.

If you'd like more collaborative material from the trio, Fact Mag has not one but two mixes, an hour each.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:34 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed the first Fact mix from this collaboration. If ever there was a place to use the phrase "predictably indescribable," it would be for the Fact 341 mix. The second mix has been downloaded, but I won't be able to get to it until later this week.

After Cydonia, I've become disappointed with almost all of The Orb's output throughout most of the 2000s. The lone exception was Okie Dokie It's The Orb On Kompakt, which barely qualifies as a proper Orb album as Thomas Fehlmann told Alex to go play in the corner while he recorded it. Because of their disappointing output, I neglected to listen to the David Gilmour collaboration, Metallic Spheres, though after hearing enough positive reviews of it, I may need to rectify this soon.
posted by stannate at 1:44 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I tend to like Fehlmann more than Paterson, so maybe my opinion's not worth much, but I'd add "Masterblaster (F.A.D. dub)" to the list of decent Orb output in the past decade. David Gilmour scares me, so I can't weigh in on that.
posted by with hidden noise at 1:57 PM on September 4, 2012

Oh yes. Thank you so much for this.
posted by nevercalm at 1:58 PM on September 4, 2012

legends from different genres meet in the studio

Hmm, is it so cut and dry? To me it's always been transparent that the Orb are VERY VERY influenced by dub. Maybe more so than any other genre.
posted by naju at 2:00 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I avoided stratospherically high expectations here by not forgetting about the big part of the Orb's catalog that is well, completely forgettable.

(I also don't forget about the parts that are totally great though)
posted by aubilenon at 2:09 PM on September 4, 2012

Oh you glorious basterd FLT.
posted by lalochezia at 2:14 PM on September 4, 2012

I like "Metallic Spheres" quite a lot, but on first listen this sounds superior.
posted by davebush at 2:24 PM on September 4, 2012

On paper this sounds brilliant, but other legends have collaborated with newer musicians and almost undone all their legendary-ness (I'm looking at you Mr. L. Reed).

But, I'm listening to the soundcloud upload and I'm realizing that since both the Orb and Lee Scratch Perry smoke prodigious amounts of the same smokables, I think this might work out fine...

As long as they have someone to push the buttons and loop the loops and engineer the thing at the crucial moments, that is.
posted by Skygazer at 2:27 PM on September 4, 2012

Wow. Alex Paterson is still alive? For some reason, I thought he'd died in a bizarre face-melting accident sometime around 1996.
posted by R. Schlock at 2:34 PM on September 4, 2012

Yes, The Orb have been influenced by dub for a long time, so it's not too much of a stretch here. That's probably why it works so well -- Paterson and Fehlmann aren't trying to patch in some completely unrelated genre.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:37 PM on September 4, 2012

Also on Spotify.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:44 PM on September 4, 2012

Tnx so much for posting this!
posted by Dean358 at 2:46 PM on September 4, 2012

Song 7 from Soundcloud: Go Down Evil is really hitting it for me:

Be righteous, be conscious, be holy, don't be anxious.

Go down evil...

Shamanism. A blessing from a Shaman.
posted by Skygazer at 2:55 PM on September 4, 2012

Fantastic. Thank you for posting.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:51 PM on September 4, 2012

Lee Scratch Perry is perhaps the closest thing to a Holy Man in our time.
posted by acb at 3:57 PM on September 4, 2012

Yeah, matching The Orb with Lee Scratch Perry isn't a stretch at all, it's a potential match made in heaven.

They already worked with Jah Wobble for their earliest albums, and dub is obviously a major influence on their brand of ambient-house to the point that a lot of their tracks are just best cataloged as dub.

Also, even though Le Petite Orb's much more abstract and deep scary space Pomme Fritz has been one of my favorite albums, it took me years and years to appreciate other releases like Orbus Terrarum and Cydonia.

I've seen both of these artists live, multiple times in the case of The Orb.

One of the most major regrets of my musical life was missing jamming and hanging out with The Orb at a small mountain cabin party for the Organic festival in 1996. A bunch of friends were staying at one of our friend's parents cabins near the ski park where the festival was held, and I was about to DJ to a small crowd of friends in the basement. I'd been invited to another cabin with basically everyone in the neighborhood to hang out and jam with the Orb, but my stupid ego cock-blocked me and made me say "Why would I want to do that? I'm about to DJ to a largish crowd of my friends!" so I went on with my set. 30 seconds into my first record basically everyone was gone and had headed over to the other cabin. DOH, where did everyone go?

For Perry it was right here in Seattle, but on a visit quite a few years before I moved up here, at Neumo's.

I wasn't able to get in the show because my ID was expired. So I sat outside and watched through the window and listened by leaning against the wall and absorbing the bass. Eventually Perry and most of the band came out for a break and I got to smoke with them.

I still have a hard time explaining to or reassuring my friends that I was actually totally happy with the accident of not being able to go inside for the show and hanging out by the stage door like some underaged kid, because damn, I got to briefly hang out with Perry and his entourage in a circle, and I didn't have to deal with the claustrophobic sticky hell that is Neumo's at peak capacity.

Hanging out in that spot is still one of my favorite ways to see a show at Neumo's. At least there are benches to sit on right outside, great coffee around every corner, cleaner bathrooms and sometimes it even sounds better outside than inside.

I'm loving these tracks so far, FLT, thanks.

But to be fair at this point in my life you could take any well-designed dubby reverb and delay network and feed it noises from a handful of pocket change tumbling in a dryer and have someone play bass over it and I'd listen to it until the entropic heat death of the universe.
posted by loquacious at 4:42 PM on September 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

Immediately went and bought this. <3
posted by loquat at 5:22 PM on September 4, 2012

Immediately went and bought this. <>3

As did I. I started listening to one of the links and then decided to quit screwing around.
posted by bongo_x at 6:28 PM on September 4, 2012

On paper this sounds brilliant, but other legends have collaborated with newer musicians and almost undone all their legendary-ness (I'm looking at you Mr. L. Reed)

In fairness, while Lulu was deplorable, Metallica didn't do much -- if any -- writing, and basically just performed what Lou had written.

...Such as it was.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:33 PM on September 4, 2012

"So Mr. Perry, what were the skies like when you were younger?" - the album is worth it just for that.
posted by Artw at 7:11 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for places to buy this and you're a fanatic for getting the most complete album, if not an audiophile, I'll take this moment to point out that iTunes has a bonus track, and a digital booklet to boot. There's also a variety of physical releases, available directly from The Orb, including pretty colored 7"s and a CD of the instrumental versions of the tracks.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:59 PM on September 4, 2012

The Orb is one of those bands that always turns up on my "recommended based on other music you like" algorithmically generated lists. I've always wanted to give them a listen, so I'll be interested in trying this. Thanks for posting it.
posted by immlass at 8:24 PM on September 4, 2012

There's one or two live albums and anthologies of early stuff that would be well worth your while. Not all the later stuff is as strong... That said I've really enjoyed the last few albums of theirs I've heard.

Also containing hidden gems: the Auntie Aubrey albums full of remixes.

Oh, and it looks like they did a colab with Meat Beat Manifesto... I'll have to get that.
posted by Artw at 8:34 PM on September 4, 2012

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I found myself wishing for a 'dub' version without Mr Perry's vocal contribution. It's like listening to music on headphones in the park while a grizzled old bloke with a can of lager dispenses wisdom to his mate on a nearby bench.

Alex Patterson's weekly podcast Chilled Chewy Choosedays is worth a listen though.
posted by kerplunk at 3:18 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Orb have been influenced by dub for a long time

Would you tell him that Marcus Garvey phoned?
posted by dubold at 6:37 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, !!

I had no idea this existed. I was pretty disappointed by Metallic Spheres, the Orb/Gilmore collaboration. It isn't totally awful but it's not even as good as you'd think from hearing about it, and I'd realistically considering Gilmore something of a spent force. Still, I can listen to it, which is better than a lot of failures are.

I'm an obsessive music head (listen to my radio station here) and the Orb is one of the few acts that consistently delivers for me. Witty, relaxed, intricate, with beats that make me deeply envious as a musician, what's not to like?

Even the later stuff has been generally excellent.

They seem to divide their work into "major releases" and then a lot of curiosities. In the major releases, I was a little disconcerted when they started bringing lyrics into it, first with Cydonia and then with Bicycles and Tricycles, and I don't love those albums as much as the rest, but they really got into step with "The Dream".

(Seconding the four Auntie Aubrey discs - some of the greatest remixes ever as far as I'm concerned...)

I'm so psyched to get this new piece, what a blast!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:55 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I quite liked the Gilmour/Orb collaboration, mainly because it found me with no hype preceding it. I ripped it from a friend's CD, stuck it into my ambient etc master playlist and ended up listening to it quite a bit for a month or so. It broke no new ground, it didn't expand my universe. But it did help me relax.

As for the Orb on their own, I discovered them quite early (the first album via import, I'm guessing in 1991), and man did those four slabs of vinyl get a pile of play. Still do. Spaced out 70s style synth textures and sound FX meets easy but DEEP dub -- may sound a little cliche now but back then, it was absolutely fresh.

But the album I find I listen to most now is Orbus Terrarum. Musically deep and wide, a billion miles from any pop considerations. Oxbow Lakes would be my lasting fave.
posted by philip-random at 9:31 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

There's a lot of tracks or portions of tracks on that album that frustrate me because I want them to go on longer and become their own thing and they just sort of stop/segue into the next thing.
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on September 5, 2012

I may or may not have gone to see them when on your for that album, found that our tickets were for Seated, then fallen asleep part way through the act due to the effects of a Special Cake I had eaten earlier.
posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on September 5, 2012

I saw them in Vancouver on that tour -- 1995? It sounded great and looked cool, too, in terms of visuals, projections etc. But they buried themselves behind all the various mixing boards, which was kind of a drag given the live musicians onstage, jamming with all the machines ...

I do profoundly remember Fluffy Clouds making the whole room move in time -- one of those moments where you realize, holy shit, this song is epic, an all-time great.
posted by philip-random at 10:13 AM on September 5, 2012

The BBC Sessions 1991-2001 would probably make as good an introduction to their prime years as any.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on September 5, 2012

I just clicked on the Soundcloud link - never used it before- and despite clicking on the white play arrow on the orange background nothing's happening. Sorry to derail the thread, but any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:37 PM on September 5, 2012

foxy_hedgehog, what browser are you using? I've had issues in Firefox, due to Script Blocking. Sometimes it works better when playing from an embedded player in another website. If that's the case, here's the German Rolling Stone article with the album embedded.

kerplunk: I found myself wishing for a 'dub' version without Mr Perry's vocal contribution

You can pick that up from The Orb, but as part of the deluxe CD / 7" boxset.

Artw: There's a lot of tracks or portions of tracks on that album that frustrate me because I want them to go on longer and become their own thing and they just sort of stop/segue into the next thing.

Last shill for purchasing music (in this thread): the single of Golden Clouds has some nice remixes, including some longer mixes by Youth. Some of the mixes add back in more Little Fluffy Clouds elements, too.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:49 PM on September 5, 2012

Oh, I was talking about Orbus Terrarium - Oxbow Lakes in particular. The Golden Skies mixes sound interesting though.
posted by Artw at 8:30 PM on September 5, 2012

I love Orb, and I try to get every album if I can. I do Orbus Terrarum is my favorite albom, and Oxbow Lakes is my favorite single.

The clip where "Marcus Garvey" calls for "Haile Selassie" is awesome, and the history of that, and the undertones of what it means in the song are just ... lost for words.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 8:14 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

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