THE ORB AND DAVID GILMOUR
METALLIC SPHERES IN COLOUR
Sony Music International
The Orb first released their Metallic Spheres album in 2010 and as the artist credit mentions, featured David Gilmour on guitar. Two tracks, sub-divided into five sections each, it is best described as ambient although there’s much more to it than that. The deluxe edition came with an extra disc, the entire album mixed in 3D60™, a new technology developed by Youth, the founder of Killing Joke, musician and multimedia producer Ian Thompson and The Jam’s live sound engineer, Martin Brady. It was certainly an album for the sonics fans; the critics were torn between it ‘not really being true to The Orb’ and ‘an excellent experiment.’
Thirteen years later and we have, in all honesty, a completely different album. It’s promoted as a different mix and I’m sure it is but there are elements here not on the original (or at least not prominent), that give the album a whole new ambience. There’s a lot going on all the time, subtle changes that draw you in wondering where it’s going and then before you know it, you’re there. A quick sample of two minutes before and you’ll question your own brain, flummoxed of how you got from there to here without you noticing. Then there are the moments that drop on you out of nowhere. These range from delicate to bombshell, can trip you up and spoil your comfort mode or slide you in gracefully to the next section. It pulsates, vibrates, ducks and weaves far smoother than the original release and overall, is more The Orb. Sony’s BSCD2 mastering pushes the boundaries as well giving all the frequencies a much sharper pulse.
The disc is housed in a trifold, silk-finished digipak and contains a three-panel fold out piece of art and an 8-page Japanese insert. The album cover is a beautifully coloured variation on the original release and is reminiscent of the classic Hipgnosis album covers of the 1970s which leads me nicely to Mr. Gilmour’s contribution. It will please his fans but this mix – as the artist credit notes - is more about being ‘and David Gilmour,’ not ‘featuring David Gilmour.’ In other words, his parts are not singled out for special attention; the music is better for it.
Generally speaking, people play ambient music for two reasons. Either to take them to another world while chilling out or to have in in the background while doing other things. This is more for the former as it commands you listen to it and when you do, it’s a wonderful experience.
1. Seamless Solar Spheres Of Affection Mix
2. Seamlessly Martian Spheres Of Reflection Mix
There’s a bit of background needed on this one. The first /Sin'Dogs/ release came out in 2018, the band was called Zal Cleminson’s /Sin'Dogs/ and the album was called Vol.1. It was Zal’s return to what he is best known for but it wasn’t 70s Rock. This stuff was much heavier, in-your-face, brutal and organic. Zal’s playing was Zal all the way through but he was now in the 2010s. They toured, threw in a couple of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band songs and won over audiences. Come Autumn 2019, the band were going places, the second album was in the pipeline and then, Zal quit. Four months later, covid happened and the world of the musician ground to a halt. That, we all thought, was the end of that.
It was with some surprise then that last year it was announced that two of the original /Sin'Dogs/ members had decided to put a new line-up together, sans Zal. Those two members, keyboardist David Cowan (who actually formed /Sin'Dogs/ with Zal) and bassist Nelson McFarlane were to be joined by singer Peter Scallan, Andy McLaughlan on guitar, and Todd Macleod on drums. They all have pedigrees, they had material already written, there is a potential audience there so the big question is, can they do it without Zal’s name attached to the band?
Yes, they can. Of course, Zal’s little flourishes and style of play are absent so the music has moved in a slightly different direction. That said, it is only moved slightly so fans of Vol. 1 will get into this rebirth EP, aptly titled Renascence. Three of the tracks are exactly what you want and expect from them, good original riffs, powerful keyboards, drums that drive a song forward and bass lines that contribute to the songs rather than just thump their way through. The other song, Dark Side of Your Soul, is a stunner. Opening with a delicate haunting piano over which, Scallan gradually airs his pipes, building the melody until over halfway through when the rest of the instruments come in and at that point, we are treated to a taste of what this band can really do; McLaughlan’s solos throughout this EP are superb but here, he is sublime.
Having a musician of the status of Zal in your band is always going to be the focal point and when that focus leaves, more often than not, the band breaks up or struggles on with dwindling audiences and sub-par material. That is not the case here, far from it. David and Nelson were right to do this and in fact – and I am sorry to write this Zal – they have moved forward without their headliner. This EP is a teaser for a new album due later this year and judging by these twenty minutes, it’s going to be a belter.
Dark Side Of Your Soul
Day Of Reckoning
Knock ‘Em Dead
The Strange Door