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David Gilmour - The Orb & David Gilmour: Metallic Spheres CD (album) cover


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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 styars really!!!

Well, I did pay attention to The Orb's music in the early 90's, but I was kind of swept away by the Seattle and LA scenes, that brought me back to the rock realm. So I kind of lost sight of that group's music and career for almost two decades until the present album, which I obviously borrowed because of Gilmour's name rather than tat Orb moniker, even if I never expected Floydian soundscapes. Graced with a rather nice tech-space reminiscent of Kubrick's Odyssey artwork, this album contains only two lengthy spacey almost-instrumental tracks, both divided in five movements or sections.

Not everything is perfect with Metallic Spheres, as there are some semi-technoid passages, where Gilmour's contributions comes closes to Daevid Allen's glissando techniques, but those weaker technoid spots don't overstay their welcome and are often interspaced by some brilliant pinkish inspirations. The album stays in a quiet spacey mould, despite the presence of Killing Joke's Youth on bass and him being a co-writer. On the whole, Metallic Spheres is quite enjoyable despite some lengths in the second part of the Spheres composition, just before veering Tangerine Dream-like.

Probably Gilmour's best non-Floyd work or collaboration (Supertramp's guest spot aside) since his debut solo album; this modern soundscape is a far cry from David's recent old- curmudgeon image he's developed up until his recent reconciliation with Roger. Obviously intended as a vinyl release first - look at the "side" track titles for confirmation, this is as much a Gilmour album as an Orb-ian product, despite the latter's bigger font on the front artwork, the digipak version being just as fine if less spectacular.

Report this review (#401391)
Posted Wednesday, February 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Dreamy Chill-out Spheres

At this point in his life David Gilmour can do everything he wants, even being featured on the album of a techno-trance-electropop band. The good thing is that this is a sort of experiment and the result is very good. The "Metallic Side" opens with David's slide guitar over a chill-out electronic base. The two things are very well fused together and this is the good of this album. The base is electronic as we can expect from the Orb, but in the last 20 years, including "The Division Bell" David Gilmour has made use of electronic drumming and sounds.

In particular, songs like "Learning to Fly" and "Take it Back" are not too distant from this music. It's at minute 7, more or less that his guitar is superseded by keyboards. Still present in the background with his unique sliding, Gilmour leaves room to the electronic parts. It's not Pompeii, but when the guitar cries with a bluesy mood at minute 9 I hear reminds to the live version of Saucerful of Secrets.

The singing "If you believe in Justice, if you believe in freedom" is reminding of something that I know but currently I can't identify. We can't speak of lyrics. it's just a loop. In this central part of this 28 minutes long track there's a lot of studio work. Like a collage of sounds with Gilmour's guitar playing bluesy behind. This electronic part of this track reminds me to one of my favourite Vangelis albums: City.

Exactly in the middle there's something unexpected. A totally floydian finger picking guitar brings us back to Atom Heart Mother. The drums sound like Nick Mason in the middle section of Alan's psychedelic breakfast. The following section sounds still very floydian even if a sitar in the background adds a touch of early krautrock. The uncomprehensible background voices seem to come directly from Alan's Psych Breakfast.

Thene there's a sovrappositioning of guitar, loops, sitar and spacey sounds. The absence of rhythm or drumming make it sound close to the late 70s Tangerine Dream.

The rhythm fades in at minute 24:30, more or less. Two chords, seashores and dreamy keyboards for another chill-out section. Until the end.

The second track starts very spacey. The base is pure chillout music with Gilmour that seems be improvising, but after a bit more than two minutes we are back to a Bryan Ferry's "Slave To Love" or a "Learning To Fly" tempo. This is how Gilmour was sounding in the 80s.

The excellent work made by the Orb throughout the whole is remarkable. They are able to create athmospheres that in the not frequent worst moments ar at least at the level of Rick Wright's Identity. The "If you believe in justice...." is back again....was it Jon Anderson? I'm still struggling to remember where this sentence is from. The middle part of the Spheres Side is totally electronic with a reggae bass base, electronic gimmicks and this recorded voice of David Gilmour, followed by a chaotic section which includes a typical Sicilian harp. This spacey part is at the level of the best Tangerine Dream and fades into the overlapping of more themes as it happens on Atom Heart Mother.

Not an easy track even for Gilmour's fans. I think one has to be familiar with electronic instrumental music to appreciate this one. The quasi-reggae bass is omnipresent in this track but it just adds a touch of chillout to the drums.

Is it non-essential? Maybe. Is it an excellent addition? I think yes, but not all the proggers and surely not all the fans of the "usual" Gilmour can like it.

It's progressive electronic in TD sense. More than a joke, less than a change in direction. I don't know if there will be other releases of this kind, but I surely like this one.

My God...."If you believe in Justice..." It's Crosby, Stills and Nash..... they were on Remember that night.....

Report this review (#427731)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Legendary British prog guitarist teams up with cutting-edge techno producer to make a critically-acclaimed dub techno album. Unfortunately, what I'm describing is not Gilmour with the Orb, but rather Steve Hillage and Evan Marc (aka Bluetech), for their brilliant 2008 album Dreamtime Submersible (it's on Spotify; have a listen). That album is everything one would've hoped the Gilmour/Orb pairing would've been: haunting, spacey, and incredibly evocative. Funny: When I think of Hillage, I think of someone whose guitar is never quiet, but is rather always filling up space, like on my favorite Hillage album, Green. On the other hand, Gilmour at his best uses silence as much as he uses his guitar, tastefully dropping in a line here, a line there. Yet, on the two albums "Dreamtime Submersible" and "Metallic Spheres," the roles are reversed. Hillage's guitar is sparse, often creating mood and texture in the background rather than the foreground, while Gilmour's guitar just won't... you know, shut up. Sad. The Orb are massive Floyd fans, as can be heard on their earliest releases. Just listen to "Little Fluffy Clouds," or the Floyd samples on "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain," both from The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991; the *second* best Floydian ambient house album, after The KLF's 1990 album Chill Out). I was quite excited when I heard these two legends were making an album together. I had hoped that it could both spark a return to form, while at the same time pointing the way forward, especially for Gilmour. Oh well. At least there's "Dreamtime Submersible," (as well as "Chill Out).
Report this review (#888760)
Posted Sunday, January 6, 2013 | Review Permalink

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