The Orb
Metallic Spheres (feat. David Gilmour)


2.5
average

Review

by Irving Tan STAFF
December 11th, 2010 | 63 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Multi-tab internet browsing is mankind's greatest invention since the McFlurry. The "Ctrl" button, when used in tandem with the innocuous "T" key, somehow contrives to open a whole new dimension of unbridled information access and multi-tasking. Only recently did I realize how instinctive - how embedded - this key-pressing predilection had become: one particularly bleary morning, in the mist of drowsiness, I somehow mistook my iTunes for the Mozilla Firefox browser, and mechanically hit the sacred sequence of "Ctrl + T".

Behold.

A new, previously undiscovered world suddenly lurched into view. Perfectly formed spheres of white light began to criss-cross the screen, slowly increasing in number as my morning playlist started to trundle along. Gradually, the stained computer screen began to be filled with the swirling circuits of dozens of like-minded universes. As they effervesced in the early morning haze with an apparently singular purpose, they appeared for all the world to be nothing more than a simplistic visual representation of my current musical diet. Yet, as mildly interesting as the whole affair was, one can't help but notice that there seemed to be too little going on to keep one interested for more than a few minutes.

There are too few colours in the tapestry, for one, and the stage movements of the main actors - after some observation - appears to be less Brownian than they are pre-written. The orbs casually drift through their motions in a languid, blase, and rather uninterested manner - one can almost hear the chorus of uninspired and disillusioned groans in the background, moaning for release. Then there's the fact that too much of the same is repeated - even the most spectacular of ambient light inflections become stale old chestnuts when seen for the umpteenth time.

In a piece of happenstance so coincidental it's almost uncanny, this is exactly how The Orb's latest studio release will appear to the casual listener: a nifty but ultimately meaningless accompaniment to a far greater design - just like the optional visual background on iTunes. In fact, the entire album feels like it may have been conceived for the express purpose of providing backing music to Apple's visual thingummajig - their religion is in fact shared, after all (πr2). This is a shame, for the very idea of a collaboration between the former Pink Floyd guitarist and this famed electronic music group was a stunning one: The Orb had previously collaborated with prog guitar hero Steve Hillage, while the Floyd had made similar psychedelic headspace their very own in the early '70s. It seemed to be a match made in heaven - one that was impossible of failing; unsinkable.

But, as The Orb finally embrace their prog-rock curiosities, it turns out that any experimental tendencies which they or Gilmour may have had are suddenly neutered once the two are sat together. The creative wills of both these musical forces finds itself inexplicably repelled by a desire to produce inoffensive, spacey music that is ultimately quite underwhelming. Fans of ambient releases will spend the album's entire length (49 minutes) waiting for something to happen, whereas Gilmour aficionados will find their hero strangely unfocused and oddly used (his polished singing voice is reduced to blathering shapeless words, for one) - although they will undoubtedly relish the moments of blistering guitar mastery sprinkled throughout the album's first half, "Metallic Side".

Nary a contour line is crossed as the system progresses, with the album's only true whiff of excitement appearing late on the Spheres Side, as a throbbing bass thunders ominously in the distance. It is a tantalizing moment, and one which aptly represents Metallic Spheres' constant hinting of finally moving up a gear, yet faltering even before the momentum has a chance to properly entrench itself, and ultimately returning to the dripping tinkles that have already been around for a solid forty minutes. All while iTunes' superfluous decorations flits around harmlessly onscreen.

Wallpaper music, this is. Nothing more.



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user ratings (22)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This review may also be found on my personal blog (at the address http://snuffleupagush.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/harrumph/).

Would thoroughly appreciate comments and criticisms.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Also (to whomever's responsible), I recommend changing the tracklist to:

1. Metallic Side
2. Spheres Side

The subdivisions of the tracks is not how the CD is split, and to be honest the change between the sections is barely discernible anyway.

Bitchfork
December 11th 2010


7584 Comments


It's not so much that nothing happens, it's that anything that does happen harks back to '91-style coffee shops with that incessant drum machine and the cheesy guitar washes that don't fit in at all with the spacious drift that The Orb has pioneered.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

@ Bitchfork: That's an interesting point of view; I admit that I may not have caught on it mainly because I actually am not familiar with The Orb's back-catalog lol. To be fixed soon!

@ Defeater: Erh, okay?

bloc
December 11th 2010


35025 Comments


I had a feeling this wouldn't be too great...

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

@ bloc: Yeah it isn't the best. It isn't entirely crap though, and is still a reasonably acceptable listen...just don't expect too much. Like I did. Sigh.

Gyromania
December 11th 2010


16075 Comments


Oh hi! Top job bud, definitely worthy of a pos.

ps: That summary looks awfully familiar... hmmm, I just can't seem to place my finger on it ;D

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Gyro! LOL that comment of yours made me thumb frantically through your reviews - I just noticed it's virtually the exact same as your Belle and Sebastian piece! LOL! Oh man, I guess that's just the way it is =)

Thanks for the pos mate. Question: is the (rather) rambly intro a good idea, or a bad one?

Also, when's your next piece coming along? =D?

Gyromania
December 11th 2010


16075 Comments


Haha, yeah it's all good. I'll allow it :P (lol, I kid).

The introduction is great in my opinion. You have a way of drawing the reading in and maintaining their attention, it's envious. My next review will be out later today.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Don't worry! I'll send all the royalties down to Windsor when I get them! =D

I'm very glad to hear that it works - thanks for the input! I wasn't too sure how extensive the impacts of writing at 3 am would be!

Gyromania
December 11th 2010


16075 Comments


Lol, I hear that. As you know, most of my reviews are posted in the latter half of the evening, when I'm much less coherent and constant;y second guessing myself.

Jethro42
December 11th 2010


12623 Comments


Beau travail, Irving. Have a pos.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks Jethro! I don't think it's my best work, but I really needed to get a review out - keep the momentum going, so to speak. Man, I miss writing.

Jethro42
December 11th 2010


12623 Comments


Yeah, writing is either therapeutic (oui oui), or a bitch (yes yes)

pizzamachine
December 11th 2010


12572 Comments


"Wallpaper music, this is. Nothing more."

If you say so Yoda. Great review.

bloc
December 11th 2010


35025 Comments


"Wallpaper music"

I like this term, very clever.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This one's for Pizza: http://thedailywh.at/post/2147000289/shoebox

Yeah I hear you Jethro my man. I'm seriously looking forward to the study break at the end of this month - I indeed to review on a daily basis, at the very least! Cathartic treatment at its finest! Haha!

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010


7320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Gee, thanks bloc - I appreciate the compliment =)

PS - I greatly approve of your avatar pic.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 11th 2010


10662 Comments


Ooooh, nice work as always bud....

Nary a contour line is crossed as the system progresses, with the album's only true whiff of excitement appearing late on the Spheres Side, as a throbbing bass thunders ominously in the distance


....Lines like these make your reviews a joy to read.



Digging: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III - Saturnian Poetry

Jethro42
December 11th 2010


12623 Comments


I indeed to review on a daily basis, at the very least! Cathartic treatment at its finest! Haha!

oh! So please tell me in advance before posting your 50th in case I miss it!







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