A Chat With Alex Patterson Ahead Of The Orb’s Academy 2 Gig
Thankfully his answers show this pioneer (and that’s simply “pioneer” without the prefix ambient, thank you very much) at his tongue in cheek best (see below). That pioneer distinction is the author’s own, as you soon discover how little Paterson is mithered by the labels foisted on him down the years.
Over 25 years, The Orb has notched up hit singles and albums, sold-out shows all over the world and an impressive string of collaborations, the most recent being reggae legend Lee Scratch Perry.
Initially formed by Paterson and the KLF’s Jimmy Cauty in 1988, The Orb broke through with 1989’s A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain Which Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld before 1991’s The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld created so-called ambient house, albeit stretching into dub and avant garde.
Little Fluffy Clouds was a hit single, followed by 1992’s U.F. Orb reaching number one in the album charts, spawning a top ten single in the epic, 40-minute Blue Room. A string of albums followed, including Live 93, Orbus Terrarum, Orblivion, Cydonia, Bicycles & Tricycles, The Dream and Baghdad Batteries and 2010’s Metallic Spheres.
Alex, who played a pivotal role in the creation of Primal Scream’s epoch-making Screamadelica (check out Higher Than The Sun), has also pursued side projects and run his own record labels while DJing all over the world and for BBC Radio.
“I’m just trying to be diverse while doing this 25th anniversary thing properly,” he told LTW. “We want to introduce different styles and still very much still be Orb music.”
Playing with Kakatsitsi at this year’s Glastonbury, available in full on YouTube, proved to be “…one of our more complicated adventures. They are mostly made up of Ghanaian drummers who don’t speak any English, and we have played with them since, but that day at Glastonbury was up there as a highlight of the last year for me. They do help add an element of surprise!
“Having been a roadie [For Killing Joke, band of Little Fluffy Clouds co-conspirator, Youth] I know how it all works but I also dared a mate to see how far he could blag it through all today’s corporate shit down there, which turned out to be quite amusing.
“He only had a car park pass and no ticket, laminate, wristband etcetera, but he just drove his van all the way backstage at the Pyramid, with his tent and everything, and he managed to stay there until after Public Enemy!”
The only time DR Paterson was entirely serious throughout our conversation came when relating his formative memories of first being taken to Stamford Bridge by his late father. Still carefree wherever he may be, Alex went on to reveal: “I even donated a gold disc to the club back in 1994, when Glenn Hoddle was manager. Chelsea’s the reason the Blue Room was called the Blue Room!
“You won’t catch me with your arriviste fans like Damon Albarn, but I do occasionally see Oaky [Paul Oakenfold] and Terry Farley when I go to the Bridge. My dad died when I was three years old but it’s stuck with me.”
Even a throw-away caption on a Top of The Pops appearance included in the newly released A History of the Future DVD contains a typical in-joke: “Toxygene by The Orb”, the caption states, followed by: “from Chelsea, formed in 1988”.
Ideally, Alex says, there will come a time when The Orb will perform a gig solely featuring the last track from every album, but in the meantime he’s on the road with a vengeance playing the hits… the Academy 2 on Saturday being a case in point for any floating Saturday night voters out there.
On playing the USA he does not hold back before signing off with another proper patented Battersea chuckle: “With the odd exception like Austin, Texas, I can’t stand the place! I always find myself asking myself why I’m going cos I miss so much and you’re cut off so much from what’s going on here, even with the internet. They are just so up their own arse – but you have to go cos they like you!”
DJ word association, Orb edition!
The rules were: Anything from a word to a paragraph on each
David Guetta = fun
U-Roy = getting stoned
Smashy/Nicey = ace of clubs
Mr Scruff = my brother Martin’s dog
Terry Farley = acieeeed
Annie Nightingale = her son Alex is a top chap, originally a Hove & Brighton fan, then man pooh starting winning in 1994…
David Arnold JJ = soul disco
Mark Moore = wild nights & slick sounds
Thomas Fehlmann = funky cowgirl
Danny Rampling = runny dumpling
Lee Scratch Perry = the Upsetter = jah lion
Fatboy Slim = Hull
Rob da Bank = da festival
John Peel = no equal
Tom Middleton = Russia, winter winds & baked beans
Tom Robinson = Croydon Greyhound 1978, my brother Martin
Pete Tong = what’s wrong?
The Emperor Rosko = New York’s Kiss 98.7 FM
Grooverider = Battersea/Lavender Hill
Bob Dylan = my brother Martin
Don Letts = 100 Club
Adrian Sherwood = god what a nice bloke
Liam Howlett = how now
Bentley Rhythm Ace = Brighton beaches & Tokyo mornings
Jimmy Cauty = top bloke
Alex P! = lxd
The Orb play Manchester Academy 2 on Saturday October 12th, 2013
Doors 9pm to 2.00am