Tuesday Tunes: The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

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Shall we have some writing music to kick off the autumn term here in blogland? Well, the Orb’s debut album pretty well set the tone for the band and for the ambient house genre they invented – and it’s great for writing science fiction to, as the title may suggest.

It opens with the classic Little Fluffy Clouds, probably still the best single they’ve ever released, and takes you off on a psychadelic trip into space and electronic music.

The first disc is of the mellower, atmospheric sounds, with flight instructions and other samples borrowed from NASA sprinkled through Supernova at the End of the Universe and the eerie Backside of the Moon, while the second disc spices things up a little with the reggae flavoured Perpetual Dawn, the upbeat Into the Fourth Dimension (which, incidentally, features a sample from Miserere by Gregorio Allegri, giving it a similar feel to Enigma’s MCMXC ad, which was released at around the same time), and the electro-poppy Outlands.

Along the way we’re treated to samples from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie, the prophet Amos, Vivaldi, and Kraftwerk, among others, before finally arriving at A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld – the Orb’s first single, coming in at just under 19 minutes on this CD and truly setting the standard for ambient house music.

To be fair, the Orb, and others, subsequently raised the standard; some of the tracks here (Outlands, Earth (Gaia)) are largely forgettable, but as ambient/chill out music, or in my case, something quietly going on behind me while I write, it does a standout job, and as an album it surely deserves its place in the history of electronic music.

A deluxe 3-CD edition of the album was released in 2006, with additional versions of some of the best tracks – an extra mix of Little Fluffy Clouds, and two versions of the one with A Huge Ever Growing Title, plus a much better mix of Outlands.

Stand-out track: Little Fluffy Clouds, obviously. A predictable choice maybe, but it’s impossible not to love this tune! This is a version not found on the album, but if anything harder not to love…

Listen along

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