Release Date: Aug 28, 2012
Record label: The End
Genre(s): Electronic, Ambient, Techno, Ambient Techno, IDM, Ambient Dub
Legendary reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry has exerted an almost mystical pull on artists from across the musical spectrum ever since the halcyon days of his Black Ark studio, when he created some of the strangest and most compelling music ever to come from Jamaica; his work with foundational reggae artists like the Heptones, Max Romeo, and the Congos remains both sonically unique and deeply, weirdly compelling, and artists from the Clash to the Beastie Boys have sought him out ever since then. Some of the resulting collaborations have turned out to be deeply misbegotten; a few have been brilliant. This is one of the latter.
I had this friend who worked in a home for seniors. One afternoon she asked me to come by and pick her up from work. When I arrived she took me on a mini tour of the facility where she introduced me to one of the residents, “Sady”. The 80-year-old woman sauntered down the hall completely oblivious to our presence until my friend engaged her, raising her voice as she spoke.
A venerable British electronic music group, varyingly aimless since its rave-era heyday, rejuvenates itself by hooking up with a global pop star whose style serves as a creative focal point. Sound familiar? Ambient house institution the Orb made its most engaging album in years by meeting Pink Floyd's David Gilmour on his own intimately spacey turf for 2010's Metallic Spheres. Now Orb linchpin Alex Paterson and German techno mortician Thomas Fehlmann, a frequent member since the mid-1990s, rerun the scenario with another living legend on THE ORBSERVER in the star house, producing even fresher-- if not revolutionary-- results.
The Orb were one of the most important bands of the ’90s, bringing ambient house to the UK charts, and dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry was one of their key influences. On paper, that this collaboration should be a shoo-in for brilliance. The roots of the album lie in a DJ set that Orb mainstay Alex Paterson performed with Scratch MCing on top and the problem is, sadly, the album sounds like it.
The Orbserver in the Star House incubated in the minds of Dr. Alex Paterson, the lone remaining founder of The Orb, and dub-legend Lee “Scratch” Perry for over eight years before the seminal artists reunited early in 2012 at a Berlin studio to record the album’s 11 tracks. Joining the duo were longtime Orb collaborator Thomas Fehlmann, vocal engineer Tom Theil and special engineer Tobias Freund.
Lots of fun for late-period Perry fans, and will appeal to Orbologists, too. David Katz 2012 Once upon a time, in a distant galaxy, a Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry vocal album was a rare thing. Arriving in Kingston in the early 1960s, Perry changed the shape of Jamaican popular music many times over. Of his many achievements, pioneering dub at his Black Ark studio is the standout.