The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

Infobox Album |
Name = The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
Type = Album
Artist = The Orb

Released = August 1991
Recorded = Berwick Street Studios
Genre = Ambient House
Length = 109:41
Label = Big Life
Producer = Alex Paterson, Andy Falconer, Kris Weston
Reviews =
* Allmusic Rating|5|5 [ link]
* "Spin" Rating|9|10Weisbard & Marks, 1995. p.282]
Last album = "Kiss EP" (1989)
This album = "The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld" (1991)
Next album = "U.F.Orb" (1992)
Misc = Extra album cover 2
Upper caption = Deluxe Edition
Type = Studio album

Lower caption = Cover of a 2003 reissued 3-CD deluxe edition

"The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld" is a seminal 1991 ambient house concept album by the electronic music collective The Orb. The album's framework is of a two-hour psychedelic trip though music genres and studio electronics, pushing the threshold of live stage performance. The double album is a continuous progressive composition consisting of several tracks advancing the travel concept and composed of vocal samples and sound effects interspersed with original music.

There are three versions, a 109:41 minute UK release, a 70:41 minute U.S. release and a 182:05 minute UK Deluxe Edition reissue that was released in mid 2006.

Track listing


Disc one

# "Little Fluffy Clouds" (A. Paterson/M. Glover) – 4:27
# "Earth (Gaia)" (A. Paterson/K. Weston) – 9:48
# "Supernova at the End of the Universe" (A. Paterson/S. Hillage/M. Giraudy) – 11:56
# "Back Side of the Moon" (A. Paterson/S. Hillage/M. Giraudy) – 14:15
# "Spanish Castles in Space" (A. Paterson/J. le Mesurier/G. Pratt) – 15:05

Disc two

# "Perpetual Dawn" (A. Paterson/E. Maiden) – 9:31
# "Into the Fourth Dimension" (A. Paterson/A. Falconer/P. Ferguson) – 9:16
# "Outlands" (A. Paterson/T. Fehlmann) – 8:23
# "Star 6 & 7 8 9" (A. Paterson/T. Green/H. Vickers) – 8:10
# "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld (Live Mix Mk 10)"(A. Paterson/J. Cauty/M. Riperton/R. Rudolph/S Darlow/S. Lipton/B. Woolley/T. Horn) – 18:49

The lining notes indicate tracks numbering: "earth orbit one", "earth orbit two", "earth orbit three", etc.


# "Little Fluffy Clouds" – 4:27
# "Earth (Gaia)" – 9:49
# "Supernova at the End of the Universe" – 11:55
# "Perpetual Dawn (Solar Youth Mix)" (A. Paterson/E. Maiden/J. Nelson/S. Phillips/M. Glover) – 3:48
# "Into the Fourth Dimension" – 9:14
# "Outlands" – 8:20
# "Star 6 & 7 8 9" – 4:22
# "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld (Live Mix Mk 10)" – 18:47

UK: 2006 Deluxe Edition reissue

Disc one

# "Little Fluffy Clouds" – 4:27
# "Earth (Gaia)" – 9:48
# "Supernova at the End of the Universe" – 11:56
# "Back Side of the Moon" – 14:15
# "Spanish Castles in Space" – 15:05

Disc two

# "Perpetual Dawn" – 9:31
# "Into the Fourth Dimension" – 9:16
# "Outlands" – 8:23
# "Star 6 & 7 8 9" – 8:10
# "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld (Live Mix Mk 10)" – 18:49

Disc three

# "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld [Peel Session] " – 20:14
# "Perpetual Dawn [Ultrabass II] " – 7:12
# "Little Fluffy Clouds [Cumulo Nimbus Mix] " – 6:39
# "Back Side of the Moon [Under Water Deep Space Mix] " – 8:42
# "Outlands [Fountains of Elisha Mix] " – 8:39
# "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld (Aubrey Mix Mk 11)" – 7:13
# "Spanish Castles in Space [Extended Youth Mix] " – 13:39

* Track 3 mixed by Pal Joey
* Track 4 mixed by Steve Hillage
* Track 5 mixed by Ready Made
* Track 6 mixed by Jimmy Cauty & Dr Alex Patterson
* Track 7 mixed by Youth


The Orb have always primarily been composed of one individual, Alex Paterson, along with numerous and varied assistants throughout the group's recording career. [ Prior to The Orb, Paterson was a roadie for Killing Joke, and worked in Brian Eno's EG Records. ] Paterson's late 80's and early 90's chillout dj sets in Paul Oakenfold's "Land of Oz" night in the club Heaven are legendary. [Paterson's "White Room chillout sets are mentioned [ here] ] and included collaborations with another ambient house pioneer Jimmy Cauty. Paterson says: cquote|"We'd build melodies up by overdubbing and mixing multiple tracks and then take an eight track (or was it a twelve track?) into Heaven, just linking it up to three decks ( [turntables] ), loads of CD players, loads of cassettes... we used to keep it very, very quiet. We never used to play any drums in there. It'd be, just like, you know, BBC sound effects, really... four or five hours playing really early dub reggae... For All Mankind [a documentary of NASA's Apollo missions, with a soundtrack by Brian Eno] . We had white screens so we could put up visuals as well. We had home movies of ducks in the park. We'd go for everything. It was all layering on top of each other. " [ David Toop Ocean of Sound. London: Serpent's Tail, 1995 ]

Following success in the singles market (including the 1988 "Tripping on Sunshine", 1989 "Kiss EP" and 1989 "Huge, evergrowing brain that rules from the center of the Universe"), [The singles are detailed [ here] ] Paterson and Cauty started work on their first album. [Cauty later released the collaboration as "Space"] Cauty left in 1990 to pursue another band, The KLF, with Bill Drummond, [There is some evidence to indicate they split because of "artistic differences," Paterson viewed himself as a musician, Cauty as a DJ and there was some concern that Cauty was treating The Orb as a side project. There are direct parallels between Space and Adventures but Cauty removed Paterson's attribution from the credits ] . Paterson moved on to his next collaboration "Little Fluffy Clouds" in Autumn 1990 with Killing Joke's Youth. The track was recorded by an 18 year old studio Engineer and future Orb collaborator Kris "Thrash" Weston.

Finally in April 1991, the Orb released their first album "The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld" onto an audience prepared by their groundbreaking singles and several John Peel radio sessions. [The "Maida Vale" Peel sessions are listed [ here] ] The album was received in the UK and Europe with critical acclaim. The album rose to position #29 in the UK Album charts. By mid-91, the Orb had signed a deal to release the album in the U.S. but were forced to edit the double-disc 109:41 minute UK release down to a one disc 70:41 minutes. The full double-disc version was later released in the U.S. by Island. As of April 25 2006, only the original 70:41 minute US release is available for purchase in Apple's iTunes Music Store.

Innovation and relevance

1991 was a pivotal year for Electronic music. The KLF released "The White Room", Massive Attack released "Blue Lines", My Bloody Valentine released "Loveless", Primal Scream released "Screamadelica". and The Orb released "Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld". Cauty and Drummond's KLF, especially their releases "The White Room" and "Chill Out" directly relate to the Orb's "Ultraworld", not only in its historical context but also musically. Paterson not only worked in Eno's EG Records but also inherited some of Eno's playful tones and ambient textures.

Ultraworld prepared the groundwork for many Glitch, Minimal Techno, and Ambient Techno artists; but additionally the commercial success of this album, the live tour which followed and the U.F.Orb successor announced the arrival of electronic music into the mainstream. The overt use of sampling flowered in this brief period before being legislated out of existence. Paterson encountered two lawsuits in relation to sampling on "Ultraworld"; Rickie Lee Jones sued for the use of her vocal in "Little Fluffy Clouds", and Minnie Riperton's estate for her vocal in "A Huge Evergrowing..." Paterson's use of Public Domain works (BBC and NASA recordings) also set the ground for the reaction and response of the musical community to the intrusive heavy-handed RIAA approach.

Themes and structure

Each track on Ultraworld stands distinct from its peers; there is little interrelation between them. The journey from Fluffy Clouds to Ultraworld, occurs in stages but only the title of the track reveals the map. The self-referentialness and overt absurdity of the albums space context are presented as a lampoon of prog rock conceits, the jibe extended to the embrace of the double album. Paterson veers from sample to sample, each one reinforcing the concept of travel, motorcycles, space ships, planes, each stitched and modified to make a new narrative, the definition of travel now presented as internalised, perhaps in a narcotic context.

The rejection and absence of the standard percussive framework (a 4/4 beat) allows Paterson to experiment with some very ambitious multitracked looping; samples are looped and cut to make a shifting drone anchor. Paterson often plays with samples over this; some Russian Cosmonauts talk us through one part of Paterson's journey, Gregorian Chant through another. The use of spoken word samples, Apollo mission dialogue, Cosmonaut musings, and other incongruous sources are contrasted with (often loping, syncopated) ambient house and dub rhythms.

The 'Ultraworld' reference is from an [ episode] of the "Blake's 7" TV show; the song title "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld" is the same one given to a sound effect from that show, as released earlier on a BBC sound effects album. Pink Floyd's Animals and Dark Side of the Moon are also namechecked either as objects of ridicule, in the context of double-albums and Battersea Power Station (which is a frequent theme in Orb artwork), spaceships, or more loosely through overwrought, ornate track titles, and drug references.

The double album conceit backfired in the US market. American record labels were not prepared to have rockist principles mocked by a musician producing what was still a very esoteric genre in America (or just as likely, considered it difficult to sell a more expensive double-CD by an 'unknown' artist), and forced Paterson to compromise the integrity of the album, by cutting the album from two disks to a single one, and in cutting several tracks down to more traditional 3 or 4 minute length.


One definition of "chilling" presupposes transcending from a drug-induced high; in this context the frenetic pace of MDMA high. The UK in 1991 was not long after the Summer of Love, the Madchester and Acid House movements, and with them the social acceptability of Ecstasy use, especially when attending Raves and clubs.

Paterson's music found favour with the Downtempo rooms in clubs designed to relax party-goers after dancing to the more up-tempo rave and techno beats. Ultraworld provided an extended listening period of just under 2 hours. Like Eno's Discreet Music and early ambient works, Ultraworld was used to soothe and calm amphetamine jitters and racing pulses.

Album covers

The two covers are primarily distinguished by the outing of the Floydian Battersea Power Station on the US cover. The images are attributed as follows in the lining:
*orbsonic love deep space & sampling image in the designers republic: ian, dave, nick, micheal & vanessa
*Battersea Power Station photographed by richard cheadle and treated by dr/chromagene
*cumulonimbus clouds over the congo basin (challenger 1 April '83)

Critical reception

*Melody Maker (12/91) - Ranked #22 in Melody Maker's list of the top 30 albums of 1991 [The full Melody Maker 1991 Top 30 list is available [ here] ] - "...some of the most unique sounds of the year..."
*NME (10/2/93, p.29) - Ranked #45 in the NME Writer's list of the `Greatest Albums Of All Time.' [The full NME 1993 Greatest Albums list is available [ here] . You have to scroll down to the 1993 section]
*Alternative Press (7/95, p.116) - "...probably [the Orb's] most influential [release] . A combination of light rhythms, inter-stellar spaces, and random knob-turning, ADVENTURES BEYOND THE ULTRAWORLD soared into our minds with an ambient shriek unheard since Eno first experimented with the concept..."
*Q (11/96, p.155) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - "... [this] 1991 debut album...has all the trademark devices of The Orb in place: helicopter noises, vocal samples, slabs of dub, sudden washes of apparently random noise, absurd titles...and very long tracks..."Fact|date=February 2007
*Spin (9/99, p.160) - Ranked #82 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s." [Retrieved from the Internet Archive [ here] ]
*Muzik (2/02) - Ranked #7 in Muzik Magazines Top 50 Dance Albums if All time [Full list is [ here] . Scroll down, list is very long.]
*Pitchfork (2003) - Ranked #100 in Pitchforks Top 100 records of the 1990s "... supremely hypnotizing ... simultaneously liquid enough to put you to sleep and frighteningly exotic enough to hype your nerves up" [Full list is available [ here] ]
*Slant Magazine (2003) - Ranked #4 in Slants "The 25 Greatest Electronic Albums of the 20th Century" [Full article available [ here] ]

Tracks details

Instrumentation and samples

* "Little Fluffy Clouds":
** Rickie Lee Jones interview from a promotional CD which came with some copies of her "Flying Cowboys" album. Subject of litigation.
** Steve Reich - Electric Counterpoint - Movement III (1989)
** Ennio Morricone Harmonica from Once Upon A Time In The West OST (1968)
* "Earth (Gaia)"
** Max von Sydow from "Flash Gordon" (1980)
** Apollo 11 moon landing from the documentary film "For All Mankind"
** At around 6:18, a spoken text in Lithuanian, an excerpt about "signing a treaty with the communist party of Azerbaijan"
* "Supernova"
** Various flight instructions from Apollo 11 and 17 from the NASA documentary "For All Mankind"
** Various NASA Space Program
** Slim Pickens "Yahoo!" from Stanley Kubrick's "" (1964)
* "Back Side of the Moon"
** Various NASA Space Program
** Sex Pistols – Some Product Interview Album Featuring Fan Radio Phone In
* "Spanish castles"
** Bill Evans “Spartacus Love Theme” from “Conversations With Myself” (1963)
* "Perpetual Dawn"
** Joey Dee Hammond organ sample from “Peppermint Twist” (1961)
* "Into the Fourth Dimension"
** Gregorio Allegri excerpt from "Miserere"
* "Outlands"
** Dunya Yusin, Lebanese Mountain Singer sample from ‘The carrier’ track from the album “The Human Voice in The World Of Islam”. Also sampled by David Byrne and Brian Eno on ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (album)
** Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry sample of Blackboard Jungle Dub (1994)
** Rickie Lee Jones interview from a promotional CD which came with some copies of her "Flying Cowboys" album. Subject of litigation.
* "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld"
** Minnie Riperton, “Lovin’ You” (1975)
** Grace Jones, “Slave to the Rhythm” (1985)
* Dub-influenced ambience.
* BBC Radiophonic Workshop soundtracks
* 70s ambient pioneers Brian Eno, Steve Hillage, and Pink Floyd
* Larry Heard's Chicago house


Musicians and engineers

* Alex Paterson
* Jimmy Cauty
* Steve Hillage
* Miquette Giraudy
* Trevor Horn
* Andy Falconer
* Thomas Fehlmann
* Youth
* Kris "Thrash" Weston
* Guy Pratt
* Steve Lipson
* Darlow
* Rudolph
* E Maiden
* J Nelson
* Simon Phillips of Prayerbox
* Greg Hunter
* dr tim russell


* Minnie Riperton
* John Le Mesurier
* Bernard Woolley


* Bill Drummond
* Jimmy Cauty
* Pink Floyd
* Brian Eno

Release history

Recording details

*the coach house, London.
*do not erase, London
*marcus studios, London.
*soho, London.
*mit cafe.
*Berwick Street Studio, London.
*Brixton, southside.
*outer space, inner space
*Trancecentral, London. Cautys/KLF studio


* Critical attributions from [ CDUniverse]
* Sample attributions from [ Babylon and Ting]
* Release history from [ allmusic]
* [ Toop quote from David Hedges] dead link|date=January 2008 |url=

External links

Adrien Denning [ review]

Eamon McCucker [ review]
* [ Back Side of the Orb]

Howard Shih [ interview] (1997)



*cite book
last= Weisbard
first= Eric
coauthors= Craig Marks
title= Spin Alternative Record Guide
publisher= Vintage Books
year= 1995
isbn= 0679755748

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