Saturday 31 December 2016

My Favourite Albums of 2016: #11 The Orb - COW / Chill Out World!

Looking at the UK singles and album chart it seems incredible that back in the 90’s an act that produced albums that straddled ambient, house, dub, reggae and weird electronic techno, with no vocals except occasional samples grabbed a number one album and a handful of top 10 singles, including one single (Blue Room) that was forty minutes long. The chances of this sort of thing happening nowadays, with the insipid and dull as dishwater indistinguishability of the majority of the chart is virtually zero.

This is a shame, because The Orb’s COW Chill Out World! album is their best record since their 90’s heyday. It’s also their most ambient release to date. The obvious reference point here is The KLF’s seminal Chill Out, which the title of the album clearly pays homage to, as well as perhaps making a mellow point about the human races current state of non-well-being. 

Like The KLF record this is a journey through a collage of sound. There’s bird song, ripples of music that float in and out and the whole thing is virtually free of beats. What makes COW stand out though is the attention to detail and the gentle free-spirited warmth of the sounds. Truly an ambient album to lose yourself in and one which has soundtracked many a late night at Breaking More Waves HQ.

The Orb - 4am Exhale (Chill Out World)

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