Three decades of ambient house.
Few groups exhibit the chemistry seen between the two members of The Orb. On stage, founding member Alex Paterson grins as he mixes in samples his bandmate—the erudite, technically savvy Swiss techno veteran Thomas Fehlmann—hasn't yet heard. This ping-pong dynamic stretches back to the legendary project's early days, when Paterson and KLF member Jimmy Cauty would return home from the club and make ambient soundscapes for the come down, a concept they later brought to Paul Oakenfold's seminal The Land of Oz nights. As the E generation fell in love with acid house, The Orb was there to chill everyone out.
What was going on musically in the chill out room was often more interesting than the main floor's throb. Initial missives like "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld" and "Little Fluffy Clouds" shaped feel-good samples into expansive psychedelia. Soon enough, The Orb was playing chess on Top Of The Pops. A colourful cast of members (Thrash, Youth) and collaborators (David Gilmour, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Steve Hillage) passed through their orbit over the years, and the project now finds its home on Kompakt, which recently released their most ambient album to date, COW or Chill Out, World! Matthew McDermott sat down with The Orb in Mexico City to debrief the night after their performance at MUTEK.MX.