Alex Paterson revolutionised the world of sampling and making very long yet mesmerising dance singles in the late 80s/early 90s under the guise of The Orb. However, he started his career in the unlikeliest of settings: as a roadie for Killing Joke. He then teamed up with Jimmy Cauty (later to join KLF) to produce after-hours listening without the heavy drum beats they had experimented with early on. They pioneered what they came to call ‘ambient house’ music which offered some relief from the thumping assault of the main floor.
When we first started doing ambient stuff we used three [record] decks, a little 12 track Akai [mixer], loads of cassettes and cds… and nobody would know what the fuck was going on. [Jimmy Cauty]
Their residency at Heaven (having been brought in by resident DJ Paul Oakenfold) landed them a Peel session in December 1989 that contained merely one track: Loving You (FF 1990 #10: presumably the only reason it didn’t make the 1989 chart was that the session was broadcast on 19 December ’89, too late to be voted for), which later came out as a single with the unwieldy title of A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld. This was the subject of a lawsuit involving the removal of Minnie Riperton’s sampled voice from the track and replacement by a soundalike. The original (complete with litiginous sample) is the one presented here today.
The Orb’s dreamy samples of science fiction movies, sound effects, seagulls and astronauts would find favour with audiences again in the late 90s (Air’s Moon Safari being one noteworthy example).
In those days it was a beginning of a new era, a new society. It was a new drug [Ecstasy] everyone enjoyed as opposed to everyone suddenly dying from it. [Alex Paterson]
As a sizeable bonus, the longest CD single to date makes its reappearance. For those of you who missed it, I include the full 40-minute version of Blue Room (FF 1992 #20) as it is, quite simply, essential (a word I don’t use lightly). These tracks both made my Best Of The Best Of The Best chart of last year at numbers 4 and 31 respectively.