The Orb could probably have made Moonbuilding 2703 AD, their 13th album, at any time in their 27-year career. But it has a back-to-first-principles feel to it – not surprising, since Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann are working without collaborators after a series of albums featuring the likes of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Youth and David Gilmour. Opening track God’s Mirrorball quickly establishes that the Orb’s talent for arch ambient techno is undimmed. It begins with a portentous monologue on good and evil before delivering a witty punchline, then blooms into a bewildering wash of synthesised chords, new age-y ripples and sound effects. The Orb are not celebrated for their brevity, and of the four tracks here, only the pretty Lunar Caves is shorter than 10 minutes. But those sprawling lengths allow beatless passages and harder grooves to come and go, moods to subtly shift and change.
The Orb | Moonbuilding 2703 AD | Compact Disc