June 12, 2008

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The Orb, The Dream
Six Degrees Records, June 10
Often propped up as the default example of IDM (intelligent dance music), The Orb have been doing large-scale chill-down techno since their DJ days in the late ’80s. Actually, the genre they’re more popularly reputed to have helped foster is ambient house — their mission statement from the start was to provide music for ravers to come down to, and with The Dream they’ve doubled back to amniotic sci-fi weird-scapes after venturing into more urban, less phantasmagorical things.

Although this album does fly into monumental fits of style, it isn’t hugely experimental. The sleighbells on “The Truth Is” seem like a what-the-hey afterthought, but everything here could be viewed as what-the-heys — the genres don’t merge as much as stop and start. After the title track bids you to melt into the couch with your annihilated date as the clock strikes 5 a.m., upbeat house tune “Vuja De” abruptly grabs your ear and drags you to the nearest floor-space big enough to get your feet moving. Such genial unpredictability should make nice-nice with fans of Moby, and there’s plenty-enough dub-reggae buffoonery to keep you awake, or at least thinking you are. A-Eric W. Saeger