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It s the end of the world as we know it, and Dr. Alex Patterson is feeling just fine. Returning with his seventh release under the moniker of the Orb, the grandfather of ambient house and the master of transcendental techno has made the cheeriest album about millennial tension and apocalyptic craziness that you re likely to hear. Not since Prince s 1999 has the beginning of the end sounded like so much fun. With music industry institutions from MTV to Billboard rushing to proclaim that electronica is the next next big thing, the contributions of veterans like Patterson and Richard James (a.k.a. the Aphex Twin) are being overlooked, while relatively slight talents such as the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers are being lauded. Meanwhile, Patterson is at his turntables leading a new version of the Orb with Andy Hughes and Thomas Fehlmann, and the group is making some of the best music of its career. Over the ominous sounds of S.A.L.T., a paranoid Scottish preacher predicts that the number of the Beast described in The Book of Revelations is showing up on our credit cards. Elsewhere, a solemn voice intones, The rocket is waiting, and a perplexed weather girl stumbles when she reads that temperatures tomorrow will be sub-zero, continued mild. Throw in a snippet from Joe McCarthy s red-baiting Senate hearings and an hysterical commercial jingle with a bouncy chorus about the youth of America on LSD, and you may find yourself rushing in a panic to the bomb shelter. Considering the subject matter, it s ironic that Delta MKII, DJ Asylum, and Toxygene contain some of the Orb s happiest hooks ever, as well as the uniquely fluid and jazzy mid-tempo grooves that have come to characterize the combo s live performances. Like the ravers who throw roof-top parties to greet the aliens in Independence Day, Patterson is going out dancing, and judging from the pleasantly disorienting swirl of sounds in his patented Orb mixes, he s probably high as a kite. And why not? In his warped but wonderful vision, the end of the world is just one more groovy trip. --Jim DerogatisUPC:731452434722SKU:ADIB000001EAU
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