The Cycles of the Orb

The Cycles of the <b>Orb</b>
Before Kruder & Dorfmeister and Thievery Corporation, the Orb were using dubbed-out beats to create post-rave comedown music. When Alex Paterson, the main man behind the Orb, recalls the British scene in the late ‘80s, he says hip-hop, reggae and chill-out tunes were all being spun and dubbed ambient house, the genre the Orb is credited with creating.

It's no surprise then that on the Orb's latest album Bicycles & Tricycles — on which Paterson and collaborators deliberately cycle back — the tracks incorporate loose grooves, spacious echoes, hip-hop and atmospheric electronics.

Paterson says he got Jimmy Cauty (who left the Orb in 1990 to focus on the KLF) to rejoin forces on the album by proposing they start from where they'd left off way back then.

"It was the only way to get him back in the studio," Paterson says. "Seeing as though he doesn't really do any music anymore, it was quite an achievement I got him in there, really."

On one of the pair's new tracks, "From a Distance," the rooster call that woke the world up to the Orb on 1989's "A Huge Evergrowing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld" emerges from the dark and rubbery layers. According to Paterson, they recycled the sample because "it's a nostalgic sort of memory cycle. We will go forward now."

The way forward is indicated by the last two tracks on the album, the murky and staticky "Kompania" with its muffled vocal samples, foghorns and chimes, and the quiet machinery drone of "Dilmun."

"I believe in 12-year cycles," Paterson explains. "It's like a Chinese thing, like the months of the year, the beginning of a new chapter." With an eye on future work with long-time collaborator Thomas Fehlmann, the Mad Professor, Meat Beat Manifesto and others, it's obvious the Orb's new cycle has already begun.