The return of legendary electronic duo The Orb was a significant highlight of the 2015 music calendar. In June, The Orb’s co-founder Alex Patterson and Swiss-born Thomas Fehlmann released a full length album, Moonbuilding 2703 AD, on Germany’s Kompact records. The Orb also embarked on a major tour in support of the album, which this reviewer attended at Montreal’s S.A.T. on September 18th. Although the group’s iconic studio gear has evolved since 1991’s debut album The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, their signature psychedelic, ambient-house sound has remained intact.
The full-length album is a deep and trippy journey into dub-infused electronic dance music. An EP of three remixes, Moonbuilding 2703 Remixes – Sin In Space Pt 1, also released on Kompact, continues the album’s groovy atmospheric textures. The first cut, an epic thirteen-minute opus by Wolfgang Voigt, has an appropriately long title: “Antiretroambientpsycholkamix.” The track begins with several minutes of cinematic, chilled-out soundscapes. The long, drawn-out ambient intro slowly builds up to a driving and lush minimal tech-house beat. Voight’s remix is a brilliant take on The Orb’s classic sound: heady music for the chill-out room that’s also great dance music. Sit back, relax, light up a spliff, close your eyes, and let the music guide you to a kaleidoscopic dream world.
In keeping with the playful existentialism of The Orb, Voight’s remix samples a British man suggesting some deep thoughts to consider while you’re dancing, or listening in a comfortable armchair: “God does not exist, but don’t worry, what does exist is good, as opposed to evil, so if you believe in God, you believe in good, and that’s as it should be.” The Orb never made simple, one-dimensional dance music. Their goal was rather to encourage fans to ponder the meaning of life and their own existence while coming-down from whatever substance-induced trip they’d taken that night.
The second track, “Moon Grotto Mix” by LA-based producer Teebs, is a more upfront deep house remix. Although the production is suitably deep and atmospheric, this track is bit too much of a dancefloor smasher after the psychedelic ambient house masterpiece of the A-side. It does, however, have some blissful keys throughout and relaxing sounds of exotic birds chirping.
Wassermann’s “Psychoschaffelclustermix” rounds-out the trio of remixes with another bouncy party banger. Like Teebs’ mix, this cut would blend well into a deep house DJ set, but it’s missing the heady ambience of the original source material captured on the A-side remix. This EP is recommended for the excellent remix by Wolfgang Voight, or for DJs looking to complete a deep house set. But if you’re looking for a more typically trippy Orb experience, head straight to the original full length album Moonbuilding 2703 AD.
Written by Rob Coles
*edited by Kate Erickson