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    The Orb:

    Bicycles & Tricycles

    Tue, 03 Aug 2004 13:38:51

    Album Reviews: Bicycles & Tricycles by The Orb

    Artists that rewrite the rules of their chosen genre are faced with the dilemma of forever having to live down their early successes. Such seems to be the fate of The Orb's Alex Paterson. Pretty much everything he's done since the early '90s has felt like a pale reflection of early breakthrough tracks like "Blue Room" and "Little Fluffy Clouds." Those songs and other Orb epics more or less invented what has become the standard soundtrack for rave chillout rooms: spacey, bleepy soundscapes inhabited by disembodied vocal samples, thick, dubby basslines and mellow beats. Even if Paterson still executes this formula better than most of his imitators, you can't help wishing he'd rediscover the originality of brilliant early projects like The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld.

    To his credit, Paterson does try to add a few new items to the Orb menu on his latest, Bicycles & Tricycles. There's a rap on "Aftermath," a full-blown house beat on "Gee Strings," his deepest excursions yet into dub on "Tower Twenty-Three" and "Orb Is (Shopping Version)." The problem is, these aren't the album's best tracks. Paterson and his collaborators are still at their most effective when they're creating a playfully trippy afterhours soundtrack enlivened by off-kilter beats and weird spoken-word samples. Tracks like "Abstractions" and "The Land of Green Ginger" do this very well. Do they hold a candle to "Little Fluffy Clouds"? Hardly -- but then again, has anyone else topped The Orb's early output yet, either? - Andy Hermann

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