Tuesday, 6 May 2014

'The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld' - The Orb (1991)

“What were the skies like when you were young?”

“Are next door mowing their lawn?”
“No, Grandad - that sound’s on the record.”
“Oh. Who is it?”
“The Orb.”

“What’s that dripping noise? Has nan left a tap on?”
“It’s on the record, Grandad.”

“Is that a plane? Or is this still The Orb?”
“No, that’s a plane. But the spaceship you’re about to hear taking off is The Orb.”

My grandparents and I loved those early Orb albums - my Grandad quickly acclimatised to the layers of samples woven in to each track. They were the soundtrack to our Sunday lunch. And our afternoon Scrabble games in my post-college unemployed years. Perhaps not the audience or the environment Dr Alex Paterson had in mind for his visionary ambient experimentations. 

They are also great albums to put on while writing. Which I remembered today while tapping away at the day job. And for an hour I was transported. Off to the Ultraworld. Via my grandparents’ dining-room table.  

Further reading: 'U.F. Orb (1992)'

Sunday, 4 May 2014

'Automatic' - The Jesus And Mary Chain (1989)

“Catch me getting it wrong from the start.”

“Happy 4th anniversary, Michael!” Oh, thanks for remembering. “And congrats on your 200th post.” Wow, have you been counting? Thanks again. “Anything special planned? Perhaps you could finally tell us why you chose May 4th to start writing this blog. Is it to do with Star Wars?” No, you’ll be surprised to learn that it isn’t to do with Star Wars. But tradition dictates that I write about a Mary Chain record on each anniversary. “Yeah, but no-one is actually that concerned about your self-imposed traditions, Michael. And besides, you missed last year.” Ok…

In 1989, May 4th was a Thursday. Which meant it was a school day for me. But far more importantly, it was also the day tickets went on sale for The Cure’s Prayer Tour - with three nights at Wembley to support the launch of ‘Disintegration’. These days of course, every seat would be snapped up in nanoseconds online by a horde of merciless tout-bots. But back then you could suffer through double geography, art and industrial studies, and still be in with a chance of getting good tickets when you rung the box office number that night. The only concern was whether your dad would be home with the credit card and how you were going to pay him back.

Naturally resigned to going to the show alone (my default Goth setting), I hadn’t paid much thought to asking along the one person in the world that I would most like to join me. So I surprised myself by doing just that as the bell rang for the end of lunch in the Sixth Form common room. That person was Toni, of course. (Or not ‘of course’ if you’ve just joined us for this Episode 200 extravaganza. In which case, you may want to pop over to the Origin story. It involves snowballs. We’ll meet you back here.) In a flash, there was a wonderfully excited ‘yes’. The rest was lost in a giddy haze. 

It was a small moment, 25 years ago. And I’ve long since lost touch with Toni. But May 4th is infused with that memory of her. And always brings a smile.