In the early '90s, the Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds" took cheeky vocal samples and mushroomed them into something stranger and spacier. While rhythmically rooted in house music, Alex Paterson and crew dosed it with stoned dub and U.K. prog, even goofing on Pink Floyd album covers. This dizzying mixture of LSD consciousness and ecstasy swing served as a gateway drug into the world of electronic music. And with the introduction of Thomas Fehlmann into the fold, the Orb became weirder and higher.
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But the morning after was brutal; by the turn of the century, the group wound up being irrelevant in the ever-mutating electronic field. Okie Dokie, its first album for Germany's Kompakt imprint after a few shimmering singles, shows the Orb tastefully deemphasizing the goofiness and adapting to the label's schaffel and pop styling. Piano and strings swirl around "Captain Korma," while "Kompania" has an ambiance composed of globs (OK, glorbs) of harp and guitar stretched like taffy. Who knew the Orb could age gracefully?