1992: The Orb - Blue Room

In the wake of The Flaming Lips’ success in completely fucking with song duration, I can’t help but be reminded of The Orb’s classic ambient techno single “Blue Room.” The story goes that Alex Paterson and Kris Weston extended the song to its famous, epic 39 minutes and 57 seconds after they learned that a song 40 minutes or higher could not be classified as a single on the UK Singles Chart. So at three seconds below the limit, “Blue Room” was released and bizarrely became a top ten hit. But regardless of length, one can’t help but be swept up in this song’s alien groove.

“Blue Room,” in its many forms, has always been a fabulous techno song. Although the edited album version on 1992’s U.F. Orb (less than half the length of this one) stands as nearly perfect, the full-length song is such an achievement because The Orb use length to their advantage. The song gains a tremendous amount of power by being so lengthy alone, giving listeners the option to space out to its druggy beats or sit and admire all of the subtle sonic detail. While it drifts and shifts into different sections, the track overall remains surprisingly focused. With the foundation of a massive pulsing bass line, “Blue Room” manages to take you to another world.

The particular timbres and rhythms Paterson and Weston use on the track are powerful, but never intrusive, fitting for the ambient house style they had developed. In other words, perfect come-down music. The song’s hypnotic rhythms are equally relaxing and engaging, and for the drug-fueled synesthesia crowd, it genuinely sounds blue (which comes primarily from the dark, icy synths that dance in and around samples of rushing water). Perhaps most importantly, “Blue Room” works as a house song that didn’t use the 4/4 beat as a crutch. The classic house beat recurs throughout, but the song goes on many psychedelic tangents as The Orb explore countless textures and rhythms. All of this adds up to a fluid hypnagogic rave that, regardless of its length, always seems to end too soon.

DeLorean

There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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