The Orb - Moonbuilding 2703 AD - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Orb - Moonbuilding 2703 AD

by Justin Pearson Rating:7 Release Date:2015-06-22

Electronic duo The Orb have been making ambient house music for quite awhile, gaining prominence in the early 90s with their signature sound. Moonbuilding 2703 AD shows us that The Orb are still relevant in the midst of modern electronica - a genre that's often being taken into new and unexplored territories (think Aphex Twin, Four Tet, Burial, to name a few). The album doesn't do anything new or groundbreaking, but it reminds us that ambient music - especially The Orb's brand of ambient - can be just as important and worthy of attention as all the other players in the game.

Moonbuilding exemplifies the commonly held notion that ambient music's primary duty is to provide an atmosphere or a  backdrop. It doesn't just stop there, however. It builds upon that idea and fills in the perceived emptiness that's usually ascribed to such music.

This sense is heightened and made more interesting by the textures and loops that simmer in the stew of the four tracks that make up the album. It cooks and bubbles with various sounds that act as vital ingredients. One blends into the other, folding into the mix ever so subtly that you can't put your finger on the actual point of transition.

The tracks are long and slow, but not to detrimental effect. Rather, as the titles clearly allude to, they act much like space or the universe itself.

'God's Mirrorball' plays out exactly like its namesake. It rotates and sparkles with textures woven through a spacecape to reveal a sense of all-knowingness. As the spoken intro will tell you, it's not quite God, but Good. If you believe in anything else - namely evil - prepare to get a "whack on the back of the neck with a big fucking stick."

'Moon Scapes 2703 BC' sounds like a comedown DJ set at the end of a hardcore rave. Just as you sink into a groove, you're pulled out and dropped into another, each one as hypnotic and soothing as the one before. In this way, any previous intensity is deflected out to the farther reaches - space in this case - and you're ready to land on two feet as the song comes to a close.

The best example of ambient music working to create an atmosphere happens on 'Lunar Caves'. Aptly named, it's indeed cave-like in its expanse, the sounds supplying the imagery along with the feeling of unease and mystery that such a lunar exploration would no doubt evoke.

Dripping, echoey marimba calls to mind the formation of stalactites and stalagmites, while staticy radio-dial frequencies are transmitted through the cosmos. It lends an eeriness that's fittingly frightening for a journey alone across the moon.

Title track 'Moonbuilding 2703 AD' works as a kind of pick-me-up for the album closer. Funky, heavy, resonant bass and claps make for a certain kind of clubbiness, albeit an Orb-like, woozy one. Around the nine-minute-mark, there's a disco-y vibe that's slightly reminiscent of Andrea True Connection's 'More, More, More' - definitely not as sensual, but nevertheless interesting, and appropriate, on an album that's concerned with not only moonbuilding but also moodbuilding.

It's difficult to keep music like this consistently engaging. Moonbuilding meanders, yet never bores. It pulls you in, operating on a level that's mostly akin to hypnosis.

Like a canvas, it doesn't hold your attention rapt to one spot, but rather turns it outward and all-around, aiming for the periphery. It stretches out to allow for breathability, eschewing any kind of fixedness or focal point. J

ust as stars become constellations, the album becomes the sum of its parts, and that's where one should look to draw any kind of pattern - or conclusion. It's a celestial, panoramic vision that only The Orb seem capable of projecting.

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