According to the Kompakt record label, The Orb’s 16th album is described as their “most ambient album yet”, and as you progress through it is easy to see why.
Following their latest work, ‘Moonbuilding 2703 AD’, the innovative pair, Alex Patterson and Thomas Fehlmann mark a creative renewal, with a record that was produced in just six months, an astonishing feat when the previous LP took six years.
The swift manufacture is largely influenced by the Orbs’ relentless live schedule, in which any spare time was viewed as valuable moments for spontaneous creative laptop productivity. Despite annotations that the title is an immediate reference to Patterson’s uncredited role in the KLF’s ‘Chill Out’ album, or the cover cows of Pink Floyds ‘Atom Heart Mother’, the name is essentially a suggestion of some sort. Summing up the process, Thomas explains, “COW / Chill Out, World! is an off the cuff, immediate album. We trusted our first instincts and allowed the ideas to flow freely”.
The album launches with ‘First Consider The Lillys’, a track that opens the sky for the journey ahead. Encompassing mother nature sounds, tweeting birds and finishing with a mesmerising voice uttering, “Today is tomorrow”, the piece is justly hypnotic, finalised by a subtle yet powerful harp rhythm opening in the background. Loaded with samples played backwards and a triumphant bass tone and piano, the acclaimed composer Roger ‘Reverend’ Eno joins the two on ‘Wireless MK2’. Alex explains the roots are a “nod to my dad, who worked for Cable and Wireless”, whilst the track’s jazzy element Paterson adds, “is a reference to the jazz bar in Fulham where my Mum and Dad met”.
With a duration of 1.39 mins, ‘Sex Panoramic Sex Heal’ is pure bliss, inducing a tropical paradise as the waves of the sea crash towards you. The latter half of ‘Oaks’ is very reminiscent of the instrumental infused producer ‘Gramatik’, incorporating a relaxing, laid back tonality and urban beat, one cannot help but envision a variegated metropolitan landscape. Perhaps their most ‘natural’ track emerges with ‘9 Elms Over River Eno (Channel 9), in which the material consists only of second-hand records from locals stores, sounds, and live samples from gigs. The finished product opens with a train horn whilst a radio recording permeates, and somewhat feels like the Orb’s own interpretation of classical music. ‘The 10 Sultans Of Rudyard (Moo Moo Mix)’ features Eno once more, and closes the album with utter ambience that even vivacious horns and a present bassline cannot hinder.
Effectively, the COW / Chill Out, World! takes you on an enlightening and pleasant expedition. Sounds bubble, flutter and float through various atmospheres and moods, from pastoral and picturesque, innocent stupefaction, the texture of former memories, to the universe’s infinite depth. In other words, the album is an ambient masterpiece. Thus, the amalgamation of all the above echoes the Orb at their most stunning and transcendent peak to date.
Words by Matthew Barlow