With Fehlmann aboard again for Moonbuilding 2703 AD, The Orb has produced its best album since 1992's U.F.Orb. It's also—and this is probably no coincidence—the album that arguably sounds the least like them. Sure, "God's Mirrorball" might start with a comedy spoken-word sample, but that's pretty much as wacky as it gets. The psilocybin-drenched synths and chirruping rainforest sounds of "Lunar Caves" are the closest to what you'd expect from a traditional Orb track, though it could just as well be mistaken for Future Sound Of London circa 1994's Lifeforms. On "God's Mirrorball," what could've been a stoned reggae skank—as on old tracks like "Perpetual Dawn"—is now replaced with a dub techno pulse à la DeepChord. Fehlmann and Paterson also sound tougher than we've heard before—if pitched up a bit, the heavy stomp that begins "Moon Scapes 2703 BC" could rock Berghain.
Given that The Orb's original sampledelic collages were more hip-hop than techno, it's not much of a surprise that a big influence on Moonbuilding 2703 AD is J Dilla. He even gets a tribute track on the deluxe edition, and his spiritual fingerprints can be felt on the title track, which begins with a B-boy swagger before moving into jazzier waters and peaking with some house piano. Each production here feels less like a 10-minute single than a condensed DJ set, and The Orb navigate these spaces with a fresh wind in their sails.