It’s easy to forget that Orb songs such as “Blue Room” and “Little Fluffy Clouds” were revolutionary back in the early ’90s, especially because band mastermind Dr. Alex Paterson’s type of chilled-out electro is so ubiquitous today. In fact, Paterson was so forward-thinking at the start of his career that The Dream (a worthy addition to his catalog, and his first collaboration with long-time pal Youth since 1992’s classic U.F.Orb) merely sounds modern.
Mellow daybreak keyboards, calming rhythmic pulses and plenty of otherworldly samples—in other words, classic Orb tricks—drive “High Noon” and the title track, while the Underworld-like “A Beautiful Day” features tasteful scratching, hazy gospel-choir singing and geometric keyboard burbling. The dank “DDD (Dirty Disco Dub)” is just as its name implies, a stripped-down conflation of dub disco and dancehall. (In fact, probably due to collaborations with Dreadzone’s Tim Bran, The Dream places a heavy emphasis on dub reggae—a sensible marriage, since it too is a genre centered around minimalism and laid-back beats.)
The Dream still shouldn’t be listened to before sunset, and it’s an album that fades into the background far too often. But while that would be a bad thing for most artists, for The Orb such a result equals success.
The bottom line: ***1/2