New Dark Age – Late March 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 24, 2020 @ 2:30 pm

Released March 27, 2020

Abolition of the Royal Family
The Orb
Cooking Vinyl

The Orb is a fluid collective – founded in 1988 – the brainchild of English deejay and musician Alex Paterson who has, over the years, worked with a long list of various techno artists. A former roadie for Killing Joke, his influences also include Kraftwerk and Brian Eno. Famous for ambient industrial and psychedelic club music and now – in collaboration with a large ensemble of associates – The Orb has produced its seventeenth album. Mastery of synthesizer-based, computerized enhancement, mixing and reinterpretation is evident throughout this 12 track work which delves in multiple styles, from R & B to World Music, from Reggae to Trip Hop; from ambient to sci-fi/and post-apocalyptic sounds.

It starts with a couple of R & B tracks featuring mesmerizing, complex, racing rhythms and sweeping strings. It achieves a very pleasant electronic, groovy sound that could be a mix of Barry White and Sade – a kind of techno-soul. There’s a track called “Hawk Kings” that overlaps a repetitive, nervous, Angst-ridden piece with a disturbing voice-over featuring the once-familiar mechanical voice associated with Stephen Hawking, narrating Stephen Hawking’s theories on the origins of the universe and other arcane matters.

The Orb has been noted for frequent references to drugs, especially psychedelics. Accordingly there’s an ethereal, ultra-spacey track, its title, “Pervitin,” referring to the amphetamine-like substance reportedly said to have fueled the Nazi blitzkrieg. All kinds of recording aural effects are too be heard, coupled with R & B riffs, sci-fi-sounds, New Age lullabies, cool jazz and, on several tracks, reggae. There all kinds of voice samples and never before-heard synthetizer sounds.

As a finale. there’s even a menacing announcement from an authoritarian, 1984-like police state in some future, dystopian USA, declaring a list of draconian regulations, which is paradoxically paired with dreamy, flowing pleasant ambient music. The outrageous restrictions and penalties being proclaimed by the dictatorial voice are eerily analogous to the restrictions currently imposed around the country and the world to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

If you are a fan of any or all of the foregoing list of musical styles included in this album, you will find Abolition of the Royal Family a special gem. It could only have been put together by a mature genius for this kind of music, a group that has come to its finest level of achievement at the pinnacle of their career.

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