The Orb "Auntie Aubrie’s Excursions Beyond the Call of Duty Part 2"Out Now on Deviant Records
Long-time electronica wizard Dr. Alex Patterson is no stranger to the world of progressive. Blazing a trail of his own for over a decade, he´s managed to incorporate dubby house, psychedelic downtempo, ambient and much more to weave a tapestry of sound that is all his own. The Orb, initially made up of Alex, Jimmy Cauty and Youth, return to the scene with Auntie Aubrie´s Excursions Beyond the Call of Duty, Episode 2. The album´s tracks are segued together and feature nothing but seminal Orb remixes from the years gone by (many, hard to find).
CD1 documents The Orb´s downtempo, bass-heavy explorations, and is quite the aural aphrodisiac. We get started with a sample-laden ambient trip: the Blue Danube Orbital Mix of the long-forgotten KLF´s “3AM Eternal.” Indie rockers Primal Scream are featured next with the Battersea Shield Mix of “Higher Than the Sun,” an ambient/downtempo piece that sinks under your skin, while still retaining a calming mystique. The Blinding Mix of “Staring at the Sun” by Wendy and Lisa features next and is more straightforward pop fare with some trip hop rhythms, dub-influenced basslines, flanged sitar stabs, uplifting piano work, and full vocals intact. Next up is a reggae-tinged collaboration between the Orb & pop-icon Robbie Williams, “I Started a Joke,” which is, in fact, little more than a joke with well-placed disparaging vocal samples and an unmistakable dubbified bassline. The FT Explore Satan Mix of The Orb´s own “Once More” by Alex Patterson and Andy Hughes is next. It´s basically a stripped down version of the original from Cydonia with a monstrously distorted bouncing bassline.
Already halfway through CD1, another popstar Lisa Stansfield makes an appearance with “Time to Make You Mine” (In My Dreams Mix). Patterson´s trademark downtempo drum programming coupled with some tribal instrumentation and staccato basslines dot the aural landscape while Lisa´s sultry vocals sit snugly over the sound. The 13+ minute journey that is Rick Wright´s “Runaway” (Leggit Dub - written by Anthony Moore. produced with Rick Wright, mixed by James Guthrie) is an experimental orchestra and sample-laden foray into chillout, and is the only album track that is not strictly Orb-related – well-picked by Patterson. Youth & Orb take up remix duties on the Art of Noise´s “Art of Love,” and the downtempo breaks return after a short-lived intro sampling a chanting North American native. Other ethnic samples are utilized in the mix as this 80´s classic unfolds with some warm vibes and humble trumpet stabs. The Bon Apetit Mix of “Jo the Waiter” by Tubeway Army is another epic journey of a piece. Trademark ragga influences are intact as can be heard in the rising and falling nature of the devastating bassline and characteristic drum samples. Melodic meanderings keep one´s attention while an indiscernible vocoded diatribe is heard softly amidst the deep bass. The bassline is given further oomph with the use of distortion while other organic melodic samples continue to intensify the psychedelic feel. Last is the Pandharmoniumorb Dub of “Music For a Found Harmonium” by Penguin Café Orchestra. Short and to the point, this is an uplifting bass-heavy (distorting, in fact) delve into melodica with, yes, more dub-like basslines.
CD2 takes no time in bringing up the energy with a classic 1992 collaboration between the king of ambient himself (Mike Oldfield) and The Orb: “Sentinel” (Nobel Prize Mix). The dubby downtempo affair that was CD1 is now traded for moody epic atmospheric progressive house, putting reversification techniques to good effect along with a scrumptious rumbling bassline and some growling analog synth trickery, all on top of Oldfield´s surreal ambient soundscape. Up next we have the Orb´s ancient 1991 remix of System 7´s “Miracle,” an infectious piano-laden housey breaks track with various quirky organic elements thrown in such as an electric guitar solo, a pitched down diva vocal and some eastern instrumentation. Can´s “Halleluwa” (Halleluwa Orbus II) starts off quirkily with Sir Henry dialogue giving rise to some hypnotizing synth stabs. A soft kick slowly filters in and out from the depths, only clocking in at a low 96 bpm while a devastating revolving bassline fills the low end. Indiscernible guitar work clangs in the background while syncopated percussion fills the stereo spectrum. Next, we have the Crystal Clear Water Revival Mix of The Grid´s seminal “Crystal Clear.” Here, the Orb provide a hypnotizing acid-drenched underwater uptempo prog houser. (134 bpm). Jack Dangers makes an appearance next under the Meat Beat Manifest guise with 1991´s “Radio Babylon” (Bleach Blanket Bimboland Remix). Quite the cheeky remix title from the Orb and epic in length (12+ mins), this might very well be one of the first progressive breaks records to be released. The panned arpeggiated synths and 303 continue the underwater theme introduced by “Crystal Clear.” Far ahead of it´s time…
The second half of CD2 begins with Tangerine Dream´s “Towards the Evening Star” (Mandarin Cream Mix) with more quirky vocal sampling (a game show host and some Japanese dialogue). Initiating with some atmospheric pads and melodic meanderings, a choppy breakbeat is eventually ushered in with a gritty bassline providing backup. Metallic synth work echoes the intensity and various drum programming switch-ups are featured to keep things interesting. Witchman´s “Angel Art” (The Tale of the Orb Mix) sneaks in with a downtempo breakbeat, a humble piano loop, a funky bassline, bits of turntablism and a slew of sampling ranging from disparaging vocal snippets, saxophones, a disco loop, and more. The Damage Manual´s “Sunset Gun” (Full Monty Sunny Orb Up Mix) is a psychedelic big beat breaks affair with more heavily filtered and wacked out disparaging vocal samples, showcasing yet another side to the Orb´s sound. Yasuaki Shimizu´s “Morocco Mole” is an uncredited Orb remix and is quite a haunting ambient jaunt with some dissonant strings, an indiscernible reverberated wailing creature/instrument (possibly a guitar) and a generally unsettling mood. CD2 is concluded with the extremely short Mindless Drug Hoover – “The Reefer Song” (Glass Garden Of Child´s Mix), a humorous British ballad about getting caught smoking weed in public. LMFAO
This is as varied as they come as far as electronic albums go, and documents The Orb´s legendary chameleon-like ability to call upon influences from all kinds of music.
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Artist: The Orb
Title: Auntie Aubrie’s Excursions Beyond the Call of Duty Part 2
Label: Deviant Records
By: Vince Hart | 1 April 2002