I Am Kurious Oranj was written as the soundtrack for the ballet I Am Curious, Orange, produced by contemporary dance group Michael Clark & Company, and themed loosely around the 300th anniversary of William of Orange's accession to the English throne. The album combines studio recordings with tracks recorded live during the ballet performances in Edinburgh in June 1988.
The opening song "New Big Prinz" (as well as its alternate version, "Big New Priest") is lyrically based on "Hip Priest" off the group's 1982 album Hex Enduction Hour; the original track was also used in the ballet as a backing tape. "Jerusalem" is an adaptation of William Blake's hymn using Hubert Parry's original music (although Parry doesn't appear in the credits). "Last Nacht" is a remix of "Bremen Nacht" off the group's previous album, The Frenz Experiment.
One song which was written for the ballet and performed but did not make the album was "Dead Beat Descendant". It was later re-recorded and released on Seminal Live.
In common with other albums released through Beggars Banquet Records by the Fall, I Am Kurious Oranj featured a different track listing across the various formats on which it was originally released. In addition to extra tracks "Guide Me Soft" and "Big New Priest", the UK CD featured several alternate/extended versions of songs (tracks 3,5,7,8,12). In 2013, Beggars remastered and reissued the album on CD as a part of 5 Albums box set; the new edition used the CD mixes reordered according to the vinyl track order, with extra tracks and alternate vinyl mixes added as bonus tracks.
The release of I Am Kurious Oranj came at the end of a relatively successful year for the group, which had also seen the release of an "accessible" album, The Frenz Experiment, and a handful of singles in the UK singles chart.
A live version of this album recorded during at one of the Edinburgh Festival performances of the ballet was belatedly issued in 2000, under the title I Am As Pure As Oranj.
I Am Kurious Oranj was critically well-received at the time. NME wrote "[The Fall have] retained the power to surprise, to provoke and occasionally outrage that only the Smiths could pretend to possess in the '80s."
A later review of the album by AllMusic, however, is more indifferent, opining, "As a cohesive Fall album it fails [...] I Am Kurious Oranj would have been more interesting to see than hear."