The Orb featuring David Gilmour, "Metallic Spheres" (Columbia)
If you can't get enough of those vintage Pink Floyd jams, then the new album by The Orb featuring David Gilmour may quell your desire. The electronic mavens collaborate with the legendary guitarist on "Metallic Spheres," a two-part opus that harkens back to the experimental sounds of Gilmour's old band.
A few minutes into the first track "Metallic" (the album's other track is called "Spheres") and it sounds as if Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann have channeled the flavor of "Ummagumma" and "Atom Heart Mother" and built an entire album around them. It's a more refined yet every bit as spacey, aided by modern recording techniques.
Inspired by the likes of Kraftwerk and Brian Eno, the Orb's unique tonal imagery, known as ambient techno, consists of layering various instruments and natural sounds that essentially are built in the post-production phase. Gilmour was brought in to add his distinct guitar sound to the mix, much like a singer that records over an accompanying track.
The earthy feel of the movement comes from Paterson and his nature recordings. He seems to incorporate every type of natural sound, from the splashing of a waterfall to rustling leaves, even the echoes of a cave's interior. Mixed with the layered instrumentation, the album's two songs allows room for Gilmour's distinctive guitar play to shine. Throughout the piece, he uses various guitars, making them laugh, cry, and sing his emotional melodies, and occasionally scorching leads.
Despite the flavor of the moment, Gilmour's play comes off as smooth and relaxed. He recorded most of his parts on an outside deck, which helps convey the sentiment.
"Metallic Spheres" does require a 50-minute investment to fully appreciate, so if you have the time, it's a pleasant departure from the structured hooks and choruses of the average pop song.