April 6, 2018

The Orb - The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (1991)


I'd be hard pressed to dig up an album with a sound as infinite and seamless as Ultraworld. Even though the it's built mostly on samples, there are few holes in this record that suggest the limitations of musical and recording equipment; this leaves the music feeling like a natural occurrence or a psychological phenomenon as opposed to something created by humans. Both the drums and keyboards are lush mixtures of samples and original programmings and it's nearly impossible to tell where either starts or ends. Ultraworld spawned a million white-label imitators, but what sets apart the original from its followers is how much Orb challenges themselves. These songs could have been great as straight-up jams, yet the group introduces new elements or variations in ways that are hard to predict. The deep use of the soundstage (especially when it comes to the stimulating vocal samples) is breathtaking and one of the great peaks in psychedelic art. Ultraworld is considered a concept album and is successful in conveying a sense of journey/progress. That said, I would have sequenced the album a bit differently: at least interspersing the back-to-back "Back Side Of The Moon" and "Spanish Castles In Space" because 30 minutes of no-pulse ambient is pretty daunting on an album with so many memorable dance moments. One of the most epic albums ever and quintessential electronic music; listen to it and make sure you've got a perfect 2 hours set aside because you might just have a spiritual experience.

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