No introduction is needed for The Orb, but just so everyone is on the same page:
The Orb is a pioneering ambient and house project with origins in London. They have prolific abilities to compose music that both soothes the soul and stimulates the mind simultaneously. Going through various line-up changes over their history, this album contains the duo of Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann. The Orb’s collection is extensive, twelve studio albums, along with live recordings, remixes, over twenty music videos, and the list goes on. Cow / Chill Out, World! adds all of it up and shows that they still have fresh material consistently brewing.
The tracks are all cleverly titled according to their sequence in the album, one through ten. “First, Consider The Lillys” starts the album with an ambient bliss, slowly slicing in a field recordings of crickets, water sloshing, accompanied by a lo-fi rolling hiss in hi-fidelity, then the track croons its way into drums, synths jumping around. It builds up the layers and tempo, and then slowly drops samples until it chills out into the next track. “Wireless Mk2” starts with a recording about, “butterflies in the stomach,” strung along with reverbed pianos, trickling delays, reversed samples phasing in and out, leading into what sounds like wind chimes under water.
“Siren 33” is a nice ambient break sounds like a horror-esque underwater documentary track. “4am Exhale (Chill Out, World!)” has field recordings of what might be toads, a sandy hip-hop beat on loop, and a squared organ synth. The loop ends and then some sweet noises come into play, what sound likes tweaked car horns, motor-cars accelerating, etc. “5th Dimensions” gives us layers of field recordings of birds, with hiss coming in like ocean waves, a synth on loop, some more indecipherable field recordings, and overall is a very warming track on the album.
“Sex (Panoramic Sex Heal)” has a nice touristy Polynesian island tune on loop, more crickets, and more synths. “7 Oaks” has tweaked and distorted samples of strings, a bustle of people in the streets, and a piano leads into a beat made of staccatos. That is followed by, “Just Because I Really Really Luv Ya,” which sounds like a person playing with modular synths in the rainforest surrounded by icy chimes.
In “9 Elms Over River Eno (Channel 9),” the chimes are struck like bells in octaves, some seagulls pass by, and then it builds with higher frequencies lifting the mood. Then a harp-like instrument is struck and put on delay, which leads to a beat with layers building, and building. The song drops, and then all of the layers come back together and deconstruct out. The final track is “The 10 Sultans of Rudyard (Moo Moo Mix).” It has samples of birds playing around a scientific explanation of sound, really reminds me of something The Books would do. It has a dulcimer sounding instrument jumping around, some discordant piano spilling out into feedback, but is mellow throughout.
The Orb is known for their ambient/house style music that is riddled with themes of space, nature, love, and all the levels of consciousness inside and out. Cow / Chill Out, World! has all of their trademarks, and doesn’t stray from their roots, inspirations, and unique style that puts them at the top of the list. It is definitely an interesting listen with all of the field recordings, layers of tweaked sounds, and complex compositions. The Orb laid off of the house a bit in this one, and produced a top-tier ambient album.