The Orb is one of those electronic groups that I've always sort of had a soft spot for. They were one of the first groups that I began listening to in terms of electronic music and to this day I can pop in "Little Fluffy Clouds" and it will put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. Not only has the group (mainly head person Dr. Alex Patterson) been quite prolific in terms of releasing their own music, but they've also become valued as a group who will take another song and give it a completely new feel with a remix, rendering tracks almost completely different than their original version and taking them in entirely new places. A couple years back, a first part of this 2CD series came out, and now comes another 2CD follow up (for those keeping track at home, it's almost 5 hours of remixes).
It was just earlier this year that the Orb released their 8th studio album in Cydonia. While that release had it's definite moments, as a whole it left me feeling like the group was losing it a bit. Months later, I find myself turning to classic albums like their Orbus Terrarum much more still. Likewise, I unfortunately feel like this second batch of remixes is somewhat like sloppy seconds for the group. While there are some good tracks, as a whole it just doesn't gel as well as the first part of the series and some tracks feel more like a money-grab than a valued remix/reworking.
The release starts of with a version of "Beams Of Light" by Pato Banton that goes from ethno techno to spaced-out, to almost baroque electronic (with harpsichords) in the course of only 7 minutes. Although a bit cheesy at times, it's a classic everything-and-the-kitchen sink mix by the Orb. After a fairly standard (and somewhat boring) rave-up of "Miracle" by System 7, the release really hits a stride for the middle section. "Halleluwah" by Can is turned into a super trippy, slowly progressing mix that leads nicely into the shimmering dancefloor of "Crystal Clear" by The Grid. The solid tracks continue with the epic reworking of Meat Beat Manifesto's "Radio Babylon" (in which it is turned into something completely unrecognizable, but just as good) while "Towards The Evening Star" by Tangerine Dream starts out rather dreamy but ends wallowing through thicky and nice, syrupy basslines at the end.
If there's one track on the two Cds that feels like a money-grab, it's "Time To Make You Mine" by Lisa Stansfield. Probably the most poppy track on the whole set, the only real change is that it's a bit more slowed down and longer than the original. On the other side of things, the 13 and a half minute reworking of Rick Wrights "Runaway" is another extended trip into excellent Orb territory, and includes a very nice dub infusion. The majority of the second disc, though, works with earlier material and in addition to sounding somewhat dated, seems more tailored for the dancefloor instead of including the wacked-out stylings that make the better Orb remix work. One of the most fun inclusions on either CD, though, is the super short, jaunty, hairbrained mix of "The Reefer Song" by Mindless Drug Hoover. It takes the folky sound of the original and hops it up calypso style, getting you to shake your heiny whether you enjoy the funny cigarettes or not.
One other thing that I feel needs to be mentioned is that in a couple different points on the recording (most noticibly on the Meat Beat Manifesto and Tangerine Dream mixes on the first disc), the sound mix gets a bit muddy when the low-end really starts pumping. It's not a huge distraction, but if you like listening to things loud on a nice stereo, it's something that you'll definitely notice. So, while it isn't a complete letdown, I am somewhat underwhelmed by the second part in this series. If you're going to choose between one or the other, definitely go with the first part, but if you're sort of a diehard like myself, you'd might as well get this one as well. I know that the group has more remixes out there that would have made this more solid if they're been included instead of certain other tracks, but perhaps they're saving those for a part three.