og:image" content=""https://s12.postimg.org/akaze8k99/blog.png"" /> Gidman's Treasures And Nuggets: Article on The Orb and the bands future.....

Monday, 8 November 2010

Article on The Orb and the bands future.....

When The Orb were hailed as the new Floyd, Alex Paterson worried it could ruin thier rep. Now, 20 years on, he's delighted to be working with Dave GilmourPremium Article !

By Aidan Smith

"ALMOST 20 years ago, Alex Paterson's The Orb were hailed as the new Pink Floyd and a music magazine managed to bring psychedelic-rock legend Dave Gilmour and the young pretender together for a front-cover feature.
It seemed like the obvious comparison. Both acts wanted to expand minds and explore space. Both favoured long pieces of music and lengthy song-titles - the Floyd with Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving WitADVERTISEMENT h A Pict and The Orb with A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld. And to add to Paterson's credentials as a watcher of the skies, his Kintyre-born father helped construct the Telstar satellite.

But the Orbman was nervous. "I remember we met in Notting Hill at what I think were Dave's offices - I was told he was obsessed with aeroplanes and there were propellers everywhere," says Paterson. "I thought being called the new Floyd would be bad for us. We'd already made two experimental albums; we'd invented this thing called ambient house. I thought that being associated with this guy from a different generation would hold us back. Dave, of course, was very gracious. He must have thought I was this snotty upstart, which I was, but he didn't let on. So it's pretty funny and pretty amazing that we've ended up making this record."

The collaboration, Metallic Spheres, involves two pieces of Orb noodling built round Gilmour's guitar, both lasting around 20 minutes, the length of one side of vinyl back in the day, and grew out of a charity event for Gary McKinnon, the Glasgow-born hacker fighting extradition to the US. Back in the day, the two would have shared the same studio. "This was more like file-sharing," says Paterson. The tracks began with Gilmour jamming with Paterson's regular collaborator Youth, then he took them away and manipulated them.

When Pink Floyd were in their prog-rock pomp and making giant inflatable pigs fly, 49-year-old Paterson was a punk. "I must have hated Pink Floyd back then," he says. "Like everyone else in that movement, I was blinkered in the belief they were old hippies and therefore had to die. God, I must have been insufferable, smashing things up for the hell of it. I'm only glad I didn't become a fully-fledged football hooligan."

But when he casts his mind further back, Paterson acknowledges that he loved the Floyd, that they soothed him through an often troubled adolescence. "My dad died when I was three and shortly after that I was ostracised by my mum. I got sent to this private boarding school, Kingham Hill, where Dark Side Of The Moon became this little soundtrack to my life and I had the pyramids poster you got free with the LP on my bedroom wall. I also loved the Floyd's Meddle album for the track Echoes, which lasted all of side two and sampled football chants.

"The school was an odd place. You were either a kid from a broken home or a vicar's son and it was real sink-or-swim stuff.

My best friends were Martin Glover, before he called himself Youth, and Guy Pratt, who would one day play bass with Pink Floyd. We were always crying out for the normal family life we thought everyone on the outside was enjoying. We dealt with the tADVERTISEMENTrauma of, aged 11, suddenly having to look after yourself, and we ended up swimming. And when we left we soon realised that 'normal' doesn't really exist."

Duncan Alexander Robert Paterson is proud of his Scottish roots. He's just as likely to call himself a European these days, although despite being London-born and a Chelsea fan, admits he couldn't bring himself to cheer for England at the World Cup. He's father to Mia Arizona, ten, and four-year-old Tiger Young (named after the 1950s calypso musician Young Tiger, not the golfer). Paterson's older brother Martin died in 2001 and is much missed.

"There were nine years between us and it's nine years since he passed away so I'm about to go to Bologna where he lived for a party with his Italian friends. Martin took me to my first gigs, for which I'll always be grateful. And he reminded me of two people: Tom Baker as Doctor Who and Dave Gilmour."

Paterson started out as a drum roadie, couldn't sing or play an instrument and is deaf in one ear so he can easily appreciate great musicianship like that of Gilmour. "His importance, and that of the Floyd, cannot be overstated. It's not about grandeur but the way they used music to evoke emotion, which is a special talent."

The Orb have been burbling away for two decades now, their blissed-out music often in stark contrast to rows, rapidly changing personnel and legal disputes over the sampled voices of Minnie Riperton and Rickie Lee Jones among others. Paterson, who played chess for the duration of their sole Top Of The Pops appearance, has been the one constant. He talks of eventually handing over The Orb to daughter Mia - "She sings our song Fluffy Clouds around the house" - but isn't retiring yet and indeed appears to have been re-energised by the hook-up with Gilmour.

"Jimmy Cauty, the original other member who left to concentrate on the KLF, has asked to come back to the fold and we're going to re-record what should have been our first album but never got released. I'm also doing an opera - the Royal Opera House has commissioned one from The Orb for 2012. And I'm going to be working with Lee 'Scratch' Perry who, like Dave, was an original hero of mine. One by one, I'm knocking them off."

What a shame, then, that Paterson and Gilmour didn't actually share a pot of tea or something stronger during the making of Metallic Spheres. "Youth cocked that up by not sending me a text saying Dave was in the studio. I was his prefect at school, you know, so there will be punishment."

Metallic Spheres (Columbia) is out on 11 October

• This article was first published in the Scotland on Sunday on September 26, 2010