The Orb - Abolition of the Royal Familia Music Album Reviews

Alex Paterson and his band of merry pranksters pay tribute to the golden age of ambient house with subtlety, occasional silliness, and a slyly subversive edge.

With Andrew Weatherall gone and the KLF occupied with conceptual art, the Orb are the last act standing from the magical moment in British music when house, reggae, and ambient collided with a mischievous sense of humor. Abolition of the Royal Familia, the Orb’s new studio album, is no match for Chill Out, Screamadelica or other landmarks of the post-acid-house era. But it feels like a guardian of the flame that Weatherall and his peers ignited: melodic, adventurous, and slyly political, a far-out dispatch from one of the most brilliantly infuriating sonic adventurers of the electronic age.

After the rambling of 2018’s No Sounds Are Out of Bounds and the horizontal ambience of 2016’s COW / Chill Out, World!, the opening half of Abolition of the Royal Familia is a return to the pop-house Orb of “Toxygene” or “Perpetual Dawn,” where abstraction and atmosphere cede place to beats and hooks. The opening “Daze (Missing & Messed Up Mix)” and “House of Narcotics (Opium Wars Mix)” are both straight-up vocal house numbers whose mixdowns betray the slightest touch of the Orb’s dub influences. “Hawk Kings (Oseberg Buddhas Buttonhole)” is even more rambunctious, a pumping house gem that incorporates spinal-stretching string rushes and wistful robotic chatter in tribute to Orb fan Stephen Hawking.

House isn’t the only element to come clattering to the fore on Abolition of the Royal Familia: At times, the album feels like the Orb are peeling back the layers to reveal their inspirations. Reggae has long been an influence, usually stretched out and dubbed off into the cosmos, in keeping with the band’s origins in London chill-out rooms. But tracks like “Shape Shifters (In Two Parts) [Coffee & Ghost Train Mix]” and “Say Cheese (Siberian Tiger Cookie Mix)” are notably earthbound, the work of dialed-in humans on actual instruments rather than smoked-out alien adventurers. On songs like these, the Orb don’t feel so far removed from similarly enduring musical travellers the Grateful Dead, albeit a Dead brought up on Scientist LPs and Monty Python specials, rather than Owsley and the blues.

This touch of humor is important. For a band whose best moments—particularly their debut album, Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld—are gorgeously otherworldly, this excursion into the human realm can feel a little too close to reality. But the free-spiritedness of Abolition of the Royal Familia, with preposterous samples stacked on top of each other in gleefully arranged collages, separates the Orb from their more po-faced peers while providing a through line to their gag-packed career. “Say Cheese” starts with what appears to be British actor/director Richard Ayoade talking about cheese, while the intro to “Ital Orb (Too Blessed to Be Stressed Mix)” features a news item about the effect of “killer dope” on a baby squirrel. Depending upon your tolerance for musical tomfoolery, you might be charmed, revolted, or bored stiff.

Like good situationists, the Orb mix this absurdism with a political edge. The album is intended in part as a retrospective protest against the British royal family’s historical endorsement of the East India Company’s role in the opium trade, while “Slave Till U Die No Matter What U Buy (L’anse Aux Meadows Mix)” is a glistening ambient remake of Jello Biafra’s blistering spoken-word piece “Message From Our Sponsor.” On paper, this sounds ludicrous: politics meeting cheese on a reggae-influenced ambient-house album that dredges up the last 30 years of electronic music. But the Orb’s particular skill—much like the KLF before them—lies in stirring these ingredients into sweetly melodic stews that go down like honey, their silliness a feature rather than a bug. It’s not so much that no one else could make this ridiculous album, more that no one but the Orb would even think of it. Abolition of the Royal Familia is a testament to their sadly singular talent.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
The Orb - Abolition of the Royal Familia Music Album Reviews The Orb - Abolition of the Royal Familia Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on April 04, 2020 Rating: 5


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