On the face of it, a collaboration between ambient techno pioneers The Orb - these days in reality only Alex Patterson - and Lee "Scratch" Perry sounds like a recipe for complete joy. The Jamaican's influence on British electronic music has been slow to assert itself after he pioneered the arcane studio-as-a-performer innovations that became dub reggae in the 1970s, but, along with Kraftwerk, without either you reckon we'd still be talking about getting our revolutionary dance floor kicks from the likes of free jazz, or The Ramones.
The other side of the equation was that Patterson's music has, from its inception, owed a heavy debt to Perry's Black Ark years, via their ability to create dense, bass-heavy atmospheres and cosmic, dream-like passages that were signatures throughout their '90s heyday. We all sat agog then, if you can sit agog. There is, however, a 'but' and that but is that, despite everyone's most sincere efforts, The Observer In The Star House is a whole heap of underachievement.
Problem #1: Perry barely sings anything here; it's more a case of contributing vocals, incantations that can frequently sound a bit in tone like an elderly relative at Christmas doing a Yoda impression after a sherry too much. It's all a bit inane really. Profoundly inane on occasions I think we accept, but the listener is made to work far too hard to make any real sense of what the veteran is going on about.
The story here, basically, is a team of legends meet up and fuse together a slightly unusual album. 'Dr' Alex Paterson of The Orb previously worked with Pink Floyds David Gilmour on a charity affair reworking Graham Nash's Chicago project. This went rather well and they decided to develop the partnership and brought in supporting Orb member Youth to flourish and remix the album.
Continue reading: The Orb, Metallic Spheres featuring David Gilmour Album Review