The Orb - 05/27/1995

The Orb 1995

I had heard that The Orb was doing this thing around the time of this show where they tried to make music so noisy that it became ambient. I don't know where that rumor started but the idea of something so loud that it became a wash was intriguing. I had seen Swans at the Ritz back in high school (no ticket stub--sorry) and their set was the closest approximation of this concept that I had experienced. Swans got so insanely loud that I couldn't stand at their merchandise table long enough to put my name on the mailing list because my inner ears were buzzing and there was an intense pressure in my skull. I didn't find that at all pleasant, but I also couldn't imagine the Orb recreating that type of thing.

Dave Christopher's side project Lunasol was supposed to play in the side room after the Orb so I was interested in seeing that, too. I had a cassette tape of early Rabbit in the Moon and Lunasol mixes that was one of my most prized possessions. At the time, most of what was on that tape hadn't been released and I guess some of it still hasn't. I was curious to see what Dave was going to do with the more stripped down, chilled-out project.

The Orb was mostly just okay. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't mind-blowing and they had this annoying light show that involved pointing dozens of high powered white lights right at the audience. I guess it was some kind of 'staring at the sun' motif, but it mostly just annoyed me because I didn't take any drugs and I hadn't brought any sunglasses. Their set was not the superlative, exploratory, experimental kind of thing I had been led to believe that it would be. It was in fact just some ambient techno played very loudly with lights pointed in my face.

Lunasol was fantastic, though. Without the huge stage show, the dancing Bunny, the video projections, and all of the hoopla of a Rabbit gig, the music took center stage. Unlike the Orb which seemed like a slightly improvised version of their recorded tracks (to my ears), the Lunasol set started with some really simple improvisation and it grew organically out of that. A few things might have taken longer to develop than they needed, but I didn't mind because I could see the music coming together in real time which was pretty interesting on a purely technical level. In those days, Dave was one of the only people I had seen outside of Jeremy from Underwater who used an Atari computer for sequencing live. That will always stick with me when people ask me if I have the newest plugin, patch, or version of some software suite or when people want to talk shop at shows. Here was this guy who could perform with a monochrome Atari computer from the late 80's hooked up to a bunch of keyboards and he could blow an audience away! Sometimes it's about the tools, sure, but mostly it's about the music.