In today’s beat-saturated world, it is too easy to forget just how radical dance music’s pioneers were.
Ambient and dub house collective The Orb, formed in the twilight years of the 1980s by visionary Alex Paterson, were as much informed by the ‘rip it up and start again’ ethos of punk as they were by the sounds emerging from Ibiza.
Their early hits, such as ‘A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain…’ and ‘Perpetual Dawn’, took sample-based wizardry to new dimensions, not only providing the soundtrack to hundreds of raves but establishing one of the quintessential sounds of ’90s dance-music.
Now, as The Orb celebrates a quarter century, Island Records has compiled a retrospective of the outfit’s releases on their label, from 1989 to 2001. It’s an impressive four-disc affair, with three CDs and a DVD of archive footage.
The first CD collects the definitive versions of their most iconic works, from the 7” version of ‘Blue Room’ to ‘Toxygene’, whilst disc two offers rare studio versions and hard-to-find remixes from the likes of Mark Pritchard and Coldcut.
Yet it’s the third disc that is of most interest, offering clean recordings of The Orb’s phenomenal early live performances.
It’s a shame that The Orb’s work from the last decade, especially their recent collaborations with Lee “Scratch” Perry, is absent from the collection. Yet despite this omission, ‘History Of The Future’ masterfully encapsulates The Orb’s early musical biography from revolutionary roots to chart success and beyond.
Words: Peter Adkins
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Listen to ‘History Of The Future’ via Deezer, below…