The Orb

It was a sniff of Glastonbury and the consolation prize for punters keen to get their fix of Orblivion....
The Orb : Live

The Orb : Live

It was a sniff of Glastonbury and the consolation prize for punters keen to get their fix of Orblivion.  It was also the ideal warm up gig for Alex Patterson and Tom Fehlmann, prior to playing the West Holt Stage for Glastonbury 2013.  And warm up it did, as the beats and bass drove the packed Fleece in Bristol into a sweaty frenzy on Friday, June 28th.  The shaved head-to-dreadlock ratio was about two-to-one, with chin-strokers in abundance.  One well groomed handlebar moustache wearer reflected on the dozen or so times he had seen The Orb previously, yet the faraway look in his eye indicated that he may have been in attendance in body only at these gigs.

Getting the night started was Okay Deejay, playing some slow dirty bass and grimy beats interspersed with ambient melodies before finishing his set with some bangers that got the crowd jumping.  All of a sudden glowsticks and balloons appeared from nowhere as the dynamic duo mounted the stage.

The Orb at The FleeceWhilst not the largest arena The Orb has played, Patterson and Fehlmann loved the intimacy of the venue, as it allowed them to be in touch with the folks getting their groove on.  Both men were having a good time up front, high-fiving and throwing some funky shapes to their favourite loops whilst psychodelia maestro, Mike Cole, tickled the audiences visual cortex with a feast of tweaked clips entwined with the tunes.  A special crowd pleaser was the new track “Fussball”, featuring Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, which put smiles on a heck of a lot of dials.  The clip for this tune can been seen on The Orb’s website, and is worth a watch.  There was a unique twist to the much-anticipated “Little Fluffy Clouds”, which made it all but unidentifiable under layers of acid and distorted bass.  Two hours passed in what felt like minutes as the non-stop concoction of electronic mayhem was punctuated with hands in the air blissed out moments and obscure samples in which Mr Perry featured heavily.


After the show the guys let QRO chill for bit and answered our dopey questions like the true champions they are.  We asked if they had noticed any changes in the crowds that they’ve played over the years.  Fehlmann said that he finds it particularly gratifying that their sound continues to be contemporary and is enjoyed by the older and wiser fans.  ‘There were kids out there tonight who may have never heard our music before and were in tune with what we were doing.’  Patterson said that, ‘The Orb will kick off big time when we are dead.  The robots in the future will be dancing to our beats.’  Fehlmann added, ‘We enjoy passing on the love to people live.  It is the trigger that we actually enjoy it.’

We asked about sourcing of their samples, in particular the plethora of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry sound bites integrated into their set.  Fehlmann said, ‘With Lee it was not samples as it was a true collaboration.  We were in the studio together for a week and we were reacting and adapting to each other’s groove.’  Patterson added that Lee Scratch Perry is a ‘walking sample.’  We asked if they feel that as their music transposes so many styles, whether they feel that they have developed their own genre that is in its own way Orbesque?   Fehlmann replied that they don’t really think about it.  Patterson stated that their style is always changing, ‘But we want to be as far away from commercial shit as possible.’  At the Glastonbury festival gig the following night they played with a group of African Drummers known as ‘Kakatsitsi’.  Patterson said that he feels that they are always influenced by who they are working with, and the African themes are coming through for them at the moment.  Fehlmann said that there is no shortage of beats working with the African guys whose drums were miked up to give an explosive experience to the Glastonbury crowd.

When the discussion swung towards the importance of the visual element of the show, Patterson said that the relationship with Mike Cole was ‘a match made in heaven.’  Patterson and Cole go way back to ’78, and over the years Cole has been responsible for designing record label logos, album cover art and coordinating some of the best visual experiences so intrinsic to an Orb show.  Cole said that the night’s show in the limited space of The Fleece meant that the visual elements were condensed.  Fehlmann added, ‘Both Patterson and I are super opinionated about art.  It’s the only thing we don’t always agree on.’  ‘What is cool is when I can throw some things on Mike and he adds to it and it morphs into something new.’  It was clear there was a lot of respect for each other in the room when art was the under the microscope.

More Tales From the Orbservatory – featuring Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, was released on June 3rd, and contains the wicked track “Fussball”.  The next cool stuff to get released will be with Deadbeat, who is dropping the remixed “Fussball”, with the butt-shaking “Ball of Fire” on the b-side.  Yeah that’s right – b-side.  This is released only on twelve-inch vinyl and will be out on July 12th.  Collectors be aware.

A quarter-century of playing tunes to make you move is worthy of celebration and The Orb are letting us all come to the party with the release of their compilation The History of the Future Part 1 this year.  25 years of recording is another milestone, which will be reached next year, ensuring that Patterson and Fehlmann are kept busy with the Part 2 of The History of the Future.  So if your grey matter is a little dusty or you are part of the new generation of fans, get yer discography on…

The ‘el scoopo’ extra secret hush hush news we gleaned through torturous inquisitorial journalistic questioning techniques is that The Orb have a project they are currently working on called ‘Moonbuild’.  The ETA of this bad boy is erm… sometime in the future.  So keep your eyeballs and ear holes polished in anticipation punters.

Respect and love goes out to The Orb for a great night and big thanks to The Fleece, which will never disappoint.

-Pete Noble and Tim Cohen

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