Album #76: The Orb – Abolition of the Royal Familia

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: Cooking Vinyl
  • Best Track: The Weekend It Rained Forever

I like The Orb. I think more so than their music, I like what they represent – the antidote to rave and the soundtrack of the comedown. I also love their offbeat behaviour, such as playing chess live on Top of the Pops while a segment of ‘Blue Room’ played in 1992.

Mainly for practical reasons, I’ve done a lot of short albums on this blog, so imagine my shock when I saw that the ambient duo’s 16th and latest album appeared to be more than two and a half hours long! I eventually realised what I was looking at was the album followed by a dub version of the same album, but the main album alone still weighs in at a hefty 77 minutes.

This is the first review I’ve done after just one listen. I don’t really have time for a second but I’ll also use the excuse that this sort of ambient music is intended to be listened to passively. It’s great to put on, basically, while working or just relaxing, even though the subject matter of this record is pretty severe.

Peppered with bits of TV soundbites, I even picked out a report of a goal by lower league legend Adebayo Akinfenwa somewhere, set up by one half of the duo’s almost namesake Alex Pattison of Wycombe Wanderers. ‘The Weekend It Rained Forever’ is a highlight, because I love the sound of rainfall for a start and it’s a nice sombre, atmospheric dirge. Closer ‘Slave Till U Die No Matter What U Buy’ is hard-hitting, featuring instructions from a martial law state. One or two of them – such as “stay in your home” and “no more than two people may gather anywhere without permission” – seem eerily familiar at the moment!

The dub version is a bit repetitive and didn’t do much for me, but the main album is worth listening to. I’m probably not The Orb’s target listener, and I’m not even sure I “get” it in the way one is supposed to, but I will listen to this again, I’m sure.

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