The Orb – COW/Chill Out World (Kompakt Records)
LP / CD / DL
Thomas Fehlmann and Alex Paterson are seasoned professionals of that there can be no mistake. For almost thirty years they have been pioneers of UK ambient music and their new album, Chill Out World their fourteenth studio album, has been described as their most ambient yet. It does exactly what it says on the cover with Fehlamnn encouraging everyone to ‘chill the fuck out’.
The album construction has been a quick affair with Paterson capturing field recordings on his iPhone before transferring to Ableton. These recordings are easy to spot – birds singing, water bubbling, sheep bleating, you get the message - all capture a simple but effective organic feel which transcends the whole album. A wholly instinctive album which has been allowed to grow and expand to a work of precise beauty. Make no mistake, there is nothing earth shattering here, but what is contained within the ten tracks is a feeling of nature, of buoyancy and of oneness.
With guest appearances from composer, multi-instrumentalist and sound artist Roger Eno, and founder member of Killing Joke, Youth the sound is mature yet full of youthfulness and life. Eight of the tracks refer directly to their position on the album – track one is First Consider The Lillys, two is Wireless Mk2, three is Siren 33, etc.… - introducing a dry humour to the proceedings if the listener so chooses to be that way inclined.
There are no doubt hidden jokes along the way, most obviously with the album title which is also playfully entitled COW, and the track titles themselves surely hold some sort of hidden meaning other than the chronological references. 4am Exhale (Chill Out World) is a repetitive tinkling of blissful sounds before the sounds of motor vehicles gently glide in and out of the mix, whereas 5th Dimensions seem to throw everything in, including the odd cuckoo and pan pipe, as you do.
Some will argue that this is no Fluffy Little Clouds and it isn’t. What it is instead is a collection of ten tracks made to make you literally chill out, and it does. Sex (Panoramic Sex Heal) is a stunning one minute thirty-nine seconds of gorgeousness which is neither too short nor too long fitting perfectly into the track listing before 7 Oaks borrows from other musical genres in a refined mash up of styles.
There’s a more cinematic, dramatic approach to 9 Elms Over River Eno (Channel 9) which shifts the mood in a more upbeat direction, but the avian sounds return once more for album closer The 10 Sultans Of Rudyard with the Moo Moo Mix being either a reference to former Orb member Jimmy Cauty and his antics with The KLF, a play with the bovine acronym of the album title, or both.