(From the Gold Coast Bulleton, Australia, 15 April 2004.)
Alex Orbiting Oz
HE'S one half of UK band The Orb. And
throughout April, Alex Paterson will be tripping around Oz, taking in all the
major centres as well as the Gold Coast's Troccadero Entertainment Centre.
Down Under to promote the group's new album Bicycles & Tricycles, the visit will be the first solo tour of Australia by Paterson, renowned as a leading producer and DJ in his own right.
Paterson is one of the original 24-hour party people stimulated into creating his own music without rules.
Inspired by the Acid House revolution that swept through Britain in the 1980s, Paterson was swept up in the era when thousands of bored people found identity in a new kind of dance music and an escape route from a grim Britain buckling under Tory control.
The group were among the inventors of chill-out, or as it was known, ambient music for the E-generation.
The story of how the Orb implanted itself on Planet Pop with such uncompromising uncommercial music is now a well-known tale.
Paterson (then an ex-roadie for post-punk band Killing Joke) met Jimmy Cauty and together the duo landed a slot at DJ Paul Oakenfold's Land Of Oz night and created the first chill-out haven.
Aided by as many record decks, tape recorders and CD players as they could find, the pair inverted house music's golden rule by dropping the thump of the kick drum and inventing Ambient House during the summer of '88.
As well as being a massive dub fan, Paterson also worked a day job in the A&R department of Brian Eno's ambient label EG, which helped fuel an already healthy interest in ambient atmospherics and off-kilter rhythms.
For their first trip to the studio, the pair emerged grinning with the solar-kissed Tripping On Sunshine (and a debut single the Kiss EP), released on a label set up by Paterson and long-time friend Youth (of Killing Joke).
At the beginning of 1989 the pair recorded their masterpiece ... Loving You/A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld.
The track was championed as the first post-rave house track and features a mix of ambience, analogue sequences and choirs.
In early 1990, Jimmy Cauty left The Orb to pursue his KLF project and in the summer Paterson teamed up with old pal Youth to create the The Orb's signature track Little Fluffy Clouds.
But it took until April 1991 for The Orb to release their debut album.
Titled The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, the album blended dub and techno rhythms, blended spoken word with melted ambience, inserted radio clips and even some classical music.
The project became THE post-clubbing chill-out album and is now considered a classic.
During the same year, Paterson and Thrash hooked up with friends Primal Scream to produce a track for their forthcoming Screamadelica album.
The result was the hedonistic classic Higher Than The Sun; a loved-up anthem that perfectly captured the spirit of the times.
In 1992, The group's alien-themed opus Blue Room entered the Guinness Book of Records as the longest single to invade the British charts.
Propelled by a Jah Wobble bassline and layered with clicks, wizzes, bleeps and glugs, Blue Room comes in at a whopping 39min58sec.
On Bicycles & Tricycles, Paterson has teamed with long-time collaborator Simon Phillips and John Roome, as well as guests Thomas Fehlmann (That Swiss Fella), Fil (Autolump), Jimmy Cauty (Custerd) and vocalists The Corpral and Soom-T (Monkeytribe).
Other Orb projects include an album by Custerd, the project of Alex and original Orb co-founder Jimmy Cauty, the MadOrb remix venture between Paterson and esteemed reggae producer
Mad Professor and an exclusive remix of Blue Room which will appear on a compilation representing the BBC Radio One show The Blue Room.
Paterson will play the Troccadero on Saturday night. Joining him will be Melbourne electronic outfit Psyburbia.