The Orb's name is taken from the Woody Allen film Sleeper. The Orb in the film is a groovy glowing egg-shaped object which people pass around like a spliff and handle to get an effect, which seems, from the expressions on their faces, to be something a little like Ecstasy.
See also: Orgasmatron.
A game played in college dormitories. An object, dubbed "the orb" although it does not necessarily HAVE to be an orb, is given to a player at the outset. This player must then contrive to hide the orb in the room of another player. When that player stumbles across the orb, he or she must hide it in yet another player's dorm room. Much deception and trickery is necessary as paranoia grows. Which of your seemingly innocent visitors is in reality trying to stick you with the orb?

The game ends when everyone gets tired of the whole orb thing.

Widely recognized as pioneers of modern electronic music, The Orb also briefly revolutionized prevailing notions of popular dance music, accidentally scoring a spot on the British Top of the Pops, and earning the accolade, held until recently, of having the longest single ever to make the charts.

This "pop tune" is of course the 40+ minute epic ambient chill-out tune Blue Room, a multilayered, schizophrenic subliminal anthem complete with the eerie wailing of civil defense sirens, an infectious dub bassline, drum machine noises put through so many effects they sound like they are perhaps the result of scraping fine silverware together in a Gothic cathedral, and a sampling of Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" to (Mr.) President John F. Kennedy, among other sonic ingredients.

Viewers, however, were treated to a drastically slashed four minute version of the album-length single, churned out by the sound system while the "band" appeared playing chess amid a flood of laser lights, apparently oblivious to the somewhat-confused crowd by which they were surrounded.

The Orb were certainly not the only artists to mock TotP, though they certainly did it with style.
(see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/2255500.stm)

Orb founder Alex Paterson (Dr. LX Paterson) first spun his unique blend of dance, ambience, and dub with KLF frontman Jimmy Cauty, in The Land of Oz at Paul Oakenfold's club, Heaven. The two seperated due to differences in artistic vision, and one of the results of their collaboration, bearing the name Space, was released later by Cauty independently, with Alex's contributions removed.

The KLF shamelessly co-opted much of the mythology of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's cult classic Illuminatus! Trilogy, and influences of this nature are not altogether absent from the Orb's work, either.

Their 1997 album Orblivion is quite apocalyptically themed and its cover art surreptitiously includes the Masonic square and compass, along with a design which seems to suggest the trajectory of a comet set to impact the sun of a particular solar system, and a geometrical motif including the vesica pescis, as well as a symbolic unification of a hexagram and upward pentagram. This, combined with the somewhat cryptic liner note:

Thanks to Harry and Jim at Pictor International
and all who search for the Grail.

begins to make you wonder if perhaps The Orb knows something that we don't.


for further information:
  • (http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/orb/bio.jhtml) yes, VH1 actually has a decent short biography of The Orb.
  • (http://home.attbi.com/~star6n789/orbknow.html) to learn more about them than I do, or most would care to.
  • You may find (http://www.badorb.com/ amusing as well.

supplemental update 12/02/02

Orb is The Orb : A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain that Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld.

Getting Started:

Approaching the music of The Orb can be a difficult task. The sheer amount of music which they've produced in their lengthy career can be intimidating. This - combined with the fact that most Orb tracks have lengths well beyond a normal four-minute pop tune - can make for a steep "learning curve".

Making matters even more confusing, "Orb" and "The Orb" are basically interchangable names. Both are referenced without any consistent scheme of differentiation. Additionally, much of their early remix work used the term "orbital", to reference themselves, and has nothing to do with the Hartnoll brothers' group, Orbital.

I personally would recommend all the studio albums, including Pomme Fritz. Of course, this represents a substantial investment and many hours of listening time. The Orb mutates with every album, discovering successful formulas and discarding them, playing on the edge of trends without tying itself to any one in particular. Yet within all their reinventions, something indeed remains in the music which is uniquely theirs. Truly, Orb is The Orb.

Some basic (and entirely subjective) recommendations:

The Peel Sessions mix of AHEGPB is, in my opinion, a true work of art. That entire album epitomizes classic Orb. The later albums have shorter tracks but they are also more experimental and "noisy" than the lush, floating organic simplicity and almost subliminal contentedness of the earlier works. Orbus Terrarum is so multidimensional that it's difficult to listen to without hearing something new each time, and U.F. Orb is an almost danceable, deeply dub-imbued technology for inner space travel.

The studio albums Cydonia and Orblivion, with a bit more beat-centric approach, dense layers of ambience interpenetrating the more defined musical elements, and generally shorter tracks, could provide an alternate approach for someone coming from a background in industrial music, techno/IDM or other electronica. Other good crossover points into the Ultraworld include albums by The Boards of Canada, and perhaps Orb remixes of more "mainstream" industrial bands.


The Orb : A Selected Discography

CYDONIA - (February 2001)

THE PEEL SESSIONS - (April 1996)

ORBUS TERRARUM - (March 1995)

POMME FRITZ : The Orb's Little Album - (June 1994)

LIVE 93 - (November 1993)

U.F. ORB - (July 1992)
Limited Edition includes Disc Two, containing the following bonus tracks:
PEEL SESSIONS - (October 1991)
* this AHEGPB, unlike the album version, incorporates the complete Minnie Ripperton ("Loving You") sample, without using the soundalike (or more properly, the sound-not-alike, who will definitely offend a trained ear.) who appears in earlier mixes.
THE ORB'S ADVENTURES BEYOND THE ULTRAWORLD* - (April 1991)
* this original UK double album was later re-released to the US, which originally received a cut-down version.
The Orb is a villain published by Marvel Comics and created by writer Len Wein. The Orb first appeared in Marvel Team-Up #15 in November 1973.

I have a hand full of comics-related memories from my childhood that has stayed with me over the years. There is an issue of the Justice League of America where the entire team gets beat by some adaptable alien blobs that adapt to take them all out: they fire kryptonite rays at Superman, pound on the the Flash until he is limping around on crutches, and turn Aquaman into a mer-man. The issue ends with the team waiting for help from Hawkman, but he has run off to Thanagar in their moment of need and left them in a lurch. I never saw the next issue, so I have never known what happened and quite honestly it has bugged me for years.

One of the other comics-related memories involves Marvel Team-Up #15 and The Orb. Marvel Team-Up was a vehicle for Spider-man to have adventures with other members of the Marvel Universe on a monthly basis. These adventures often involved some one-off villain like Turner D. Century, Hell-razor, or the Basilisk and can be held responsible (along with Marvel Two-In-One with the Fantastic Four member The Thing) with the whole Scourge storyline of the 80's. The usual formula was Peter Parker traveling about, often running into another hero's alter-ego at a street fair, science exhibition, or national landmark and suddenly becoming embroiled in an effort to defeat a villain that appears and threatens the safety of the public, etc. The adventures usually were summed up in a single issues, though multi-issue stories were know to occur, but usually involved the introduction of a third hero - no one got to share Spidey's headline for more than a month. It must have been in his contract.

Anyway, it is 1973 and I am about 9. My family had gone camping in the mountains of North Carolina in the Pisgah National Forest. The campground is called Carolina Hemlocks and within walking distance there is a general store which we kids would wander to every now and then. Well, of course they had a spinner rack for comics and one day, I convinced my folks to let me buy a couple and one of the ones I picked was Marvel Team-Up #15. The cover had everything: Spider-man lying dazed on the subway tracks as a train bears down on him, the driver stating "Good Lord! I'll never stop this train IN TIME!" But, there is hope yet for our be-webbed hero, because beside him on the cover is that demonic hero Ghost Rider - and not that weird grim Danny Ketch version either. This is classic Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider and he isn't even riding a hell-fire bike - he appears to be riding a Honda or something. The flame-headed one is beside Spider-man calling "Reach out - Grab my hand or You've HAD it!!" and Spidey in an act of self-sacrifice is telling Ghost Rider "No Get Off the tracks before you're killed Too!!! It's Too Late for Me! TOO LATE!!"

Clerk, I'll take this one, my good man!! Don't wrap it up - I'll read it on the way back.

So, how did Spider-man get into this horrible situation? Amazingly enough, the folks at Marvel Team-Up hadn't even bothered to put their villain on the cover, and what a villain he was. The Orb - motorcycle riding guy in red leathers with a helmet that looked like a giant eyeball! Whoa, Nelly!!! How can you beat this? Who is this guy? Why the odd helmet?

A quick read reveals that the Orb possessed the ability to hypnotize people with his giant eyeball shaped helmet and used it to wreak havoc to the motorcycle stunt show that Johnny Blaze owned. Needless to say one of the folks at the show was Peter Parker and after a few hostages are taken we learn the whole awful truth about the Orb.

The Orb it turns out is actually Drake Shannon who was formerly part owner of this cycle show with Blaze's mentor Crash Thompson. The two started out as friends but eventually they became rivals. Eventually, the two decided that they both wanted full ownership and since neither was willing to sell to the other, they did what all good business men do: they decided a motorcycle race would settle who would end up the owner of the show. The race was tight and there was no clear winner until Shannon decided to take Thompson out by running him off the road. As is the way of these things, Shannon lost control of his bike and crashed skidding 25 yards on his face.

(At this point, the Orb removes his helmet and we are treated to a full view of the disfigured Shannon. Obviously, reconstructive surgery was not discovered in the Marvel Universe despite unstable molecules and high school nerds who could create webshooters because Shannon's face was twisted and deformed and green if I remember correctly. The image of the Orb's twisted features still rest in my memory 34 years later - good job, Marvel!)

Anyway, after a bit of racing and some heroics from our heroes the Orb was defeated. I understand he appeared again later in comics and even got to the point where the big eyeball shot lasers but honestly, he will never beat that original introduction.

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