'Ambient' is a blanket term which has been used to describe a broad range
of music, from Brian Eno's experimental compositions of the late 1970s
to the experimental electronica of the 1990s and beyond. Toop (cited in
Cooper) describes the Ambient label as a 'glue term' that sticks to whatever
it is thrown at. Brian
Eno argues that ambient music must be ''as ignorable as it is listenable,
designed as a tool for creating an environment as much as an intense listening
experience'. These properties made ambient
music well-suited to the early 1990s rave 'chill-out' room.
Taking drugs or dancing all night at clubs, kids needed a place
to come down. Thus the Chill-out room was born, where the ears(and mind)
were stimulated while the feet were given a rest.
The Orb are credited as the pioneers of this new wave of 1990s ambient
music. The group first showcased their peculiar musical collages, which
later became known as 'Ambient House', when asked to DJ in the chill-out
room at Paul Oakenfold's Land Of Oz show at London's Heaven night club.
The Orb's transformation of Eno's new-age ambient music of the 1970s to
the 'vital post-club soundtrack' of 1990s perfectly 'mirrored and stimulated
the chemically stuttered lost-and-found and lost it again time-distorted
synapses of the acid house kids'.
The Orb's debut release A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That
Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld, (1989) mixed a variety of
noises and samples to create a recording, according to Rollingstone, that
proves it was musically possible to be 'space-age electric, avant garde,
classical, romantic and funny and anything else you wanted all at the
This recording was followed by the 1991 debut double album, The Orb's
Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, which features the seminal club
song 'Little Fluffy Clouds'. The group, aided by radio airplay, enjoyed
widespread success - with their third album entering the English charts
at #1. The band has always centred around Alex Paterson and has had several
major line-up changes. By 1993 The Orb was able to perform live at concerts
and festivals without compromising their style. These experimental improvised
versions of the bands' songs appeared on a live 1993 double album Live
Other groups that have popularised and developed this style include
the KLF (Kopyright Liberation Front) and the Aphex Twins. Jimmy Cauty,
one of the founding members of KLF, was also a member in the first incarnation
of The Orb.
AMG All Music Guide, 'New Wave ', [Online] http://allmusic.com/cg/x.dll?p=amg&sql=J274 [1999, August
Muze Inc, 'Ambient', [Online] http://www.netradio.com/channels/ambient/index.html [1999, August 28]
Rolling Stone, 'The Orb Biography ', [Online] http://www.rollingstone.com/sections/artists/text/bio.asp?afl=&strBioType=BIO&LookUpString=307
[1999, August 28]