Abolition of the Royal Familia (Cooking Vinyl)
For 32 years, England’s The Orb have been at the forefront of ambient electronic music. The lineup has long been fluid — founding member and former Killing Joke roadie Alex Paterson is the only mainstay — but the albums have rarely dipped under the self-set quality bar.
Of course, it’s easy to recall the glory years. The debut The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld album (opening with the genre-defining “Little Fluffy Clouds”) is the sole release from Paterson alongside former KLF brain Jimmy Cauty. For excellent sophomore effort U.F.Orb, Paterson was working with uber producer Kris Weston. From 1995 to present, Thomas Fehlmann has been in the ranks, though additional collaborators have come and gone.
Abolition of the Royal Familia is the project’s 16th studio album in total, and it lands right in the middle of global chaos. To be honest, it’s impossible to listen to new music at the moment without contemplating the context of world events. With that in mind, Abolition… is a wonderfully, terrifying, odd and soothing soundtrack to 2020.
Opening song “Daze,” with the prophetic refrain “You can listen for daze,” features a contribution from Paterson’s dog Ruby. Elsewhere, guests include Youth, Roger Eno, and Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy from Gong and System 7. All add to the overall sense of sensory stimulation and soaring, cinematic brilliance. Even Ruby.
As with previous Orb efforts, Abolition… is a piece of work that needs to be heard in its entirety for full immersion. That said, “Afros, Afghans and Angels,” right on the middle of the album, is a clear highlight. Reminiscent of a sci-fi movie score, with a surprising hint of Queen’s far-reaching Flash Gordon.
But again, you have to experience the whole thing. Just lie down while chaos reigns outside, close your eyes and allow The Orb to drip from the walls.