The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

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The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
The Orb - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld.jpg
Studio album by
Released2 April 1991
StudioDo Not Erase, Marcus Studios, Berwick Street Studio, and Trancentral, London
LabelBig Life
The Orb chronology
Kiss EP
The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
Singles from The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
  1. "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld"
    Released: 21 October 1989
  2. "Little Fluffy Clouds"
    Released: 16 November 1990
  3. "Perpetual Dawn"
    Released: 24 January 1991
Alternate cover
Cover of original US release
Cover of original US release

The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld is the debut studio album by English electronic music group The Orb, released as a double album on 2 April 1991 by Big Life. It is a continuous, progressive composition consisting of several tracks advancing the "journey" concept; its framework is of a two-hour psychedelic trip through genres and studio electronics, produced to "push the threshold" of live stage performance, and comprising vocal samples and sound effects interspersed with original music.


The Orb have always primarily been composed of one individual, Alex Paterson, along with numerous and varied individuals assisting throughout the group's recording career. Paterson began his music career in the 1980s as a roadie for the post-punk band Killing Joke before eventually leaving in 1986 to pursue his own musical interests, influenced by the growing popularity of Chicago house music in England during the decade, and shortly thereafter began working with another ambient house pioneer, Jimmy Cauty, who had been involved in the Killing Joke side-project Brilliant.[1][2] Paterson also performed chillout DJ sets in Paul Oakenfold's Land of Oz night in the club Heaven, which included collaborations with Cauty.[2] Paterson said of these events:

"We'd build melodies up by overdubbing and mixing multiple tracks and then take an eight-track, or was it a twelve-track, into Heaven, just linking it up to three decks, loads of CD players, loads of cassettes... we used to keep it very, very quiet. We never used to play any drums in there. It'd be, just like, you know, BBC sound effects, really... four or five hours playing really early dub reggae... For All Mankind. We had white screens so we could put up visuals as well. We had home movies of ducks in the park. We'd go for everything. It was all layering on top of each other."[3]

Following success in the singles market with their releases as The Orb, including 1988's Tripping on Sunshine and the Kiss EP and A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld, both released in 1989, Paterson and Cauty started work on their first album but split in 1990 due to disagreements about releasing The Orb's material on Cauty's record label KLF Communications.[4] While Cauty released his portions of the planned album as Space and resumed his partnership with Bill Drummond as The KLF, Paterson moved on to his next collaboration, "Little Fluffy Clouds", in autumn 1990 with Killing Joke's Youth. The track was recorded by an 18-year-old studio engineer and future Orb collaborator, Kris "Thrash" Weston.

In April 1991, the Orb released The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld for an audience familiar with their groundbreaking singles and several John Peel radio sessions. The album was received in the United Kingdom and Europe with critical acclaim, and reached number 29 on the UK Albums Chart.

By mid-1991, The Orb had signed a deal to release the album in the United States, but were forced to edit the double-disc 109:41-minute UK release down to one 70:41-minute disc. This version replaced "Perpetual Dawn" with a remix by Youth and "Star 6 & 7 8 9" with its "Phase II" version, both available on the "Perpetual Dawn" single; and removed "Back Side of the Moon" and "Spanish Castles in Space" entirely. The full double-disc version and cassette were later released in the US by Island Records.


The cover for The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld was designed by graphic design collective The Designers Republic, who are credited for "orbsonic love deep space & sampling image" in the liner notes.[5] The album booklet features an image of the Battersea Power Station, as photographed by Richard Cheadle and "treated by dr/chromagene", as well as an image of cumulonimbus clouds over the Congo Basin, taken from the Space Shuttle Challenger on 1 April 1983.[5] The Battersea Power Station image was utilized as cover art for the US release of the album.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[6]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[9]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[10]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[11]

In a contemporary review of The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, the NME dubbed it "an album sounding like Pink Floyd without all the self-indulgent solos", concluding that "Reality is inside a pair of headphones overflowing with The Orb. Life will never be the same again. The flotation tank beckons."[8] Select's Russell Brown wrote that "long and strange as it is, Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld is without doubt a good trip."[12] At the end of 1991, Melody Maker ranked it at number 22 on their year-end top albums list, adding that it contained "some of the most unique sounds of the year."[13]

In the years following its release, The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld has received continued critical acclaim. A 1993 list of the greatest albums of all-time by NME placed the album at number 45.[14] In 1999, Spin ranked it at number 82 on their list of the best albums of the 1990s, with critic Richard Gehr opining that "Ultraworld is art at its most functional: It works equally well as both acid-peak booster rocket and as Prozac-ian relief from an ecstatic all-nighter."[15] In 2002, Muzik named it the seventh best dance music album of all-time,[16] while Slant Magazine deemed it the fourth greatest electronic music album of the 20th century.[17] The following year, Pitchfork's decade-end list ranked the album at number 100, with Alex Linhardt's accompanying write-up noting that it "managed to make ambient house a perpetual 'next big thing' for the rest of the decade."[18] John Bush of AllMusic cited The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld as "the album that defined the ambient house movement."[6]

Track listing[edit]

Original UK release[edit]

Side one
1."Little Fluffy Clouds" (Earth Orbit One)Alex Paterson, Martin Glover4:27
2."Earth (Gaia)" (Earth Orbit Two)Paterson, Kris Weston9:48
3."Supernova at the End of the Universe" (Earth Orbit Three)Paterson, Miquette Giraudy, Steve Hillage11:56
Total length:26:11
Side two
1."Back Side of the Moon" (Lunar Orbit Four)Paterson, Giraudy, Hillage14:15
2."Spanish Castles in Space" (Lunar Orbit Five)Paterson, Jake le Mesurier, Guy Pratt15:05
Total length:29:20
Side three
1."Perpetual Dawn" (Ultraworld Probe Six)Paterson, Eddie Maiden9:31
2."Into the Fourth Dimension" (Ultraworld Probe Seven)Paterson, Andy Falconer, Paul Ferguson9:16
3."Outlands" (Ultraworld Probe Eight)Paterson, Thomas Fehlmann8:23
Total length:27:10
Side four
1."Star 6 & 7 8 9" (Ultraworld Nine)Paterson, Tom Green, Hugh Vickers8:10
2."A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld" (Live Mix Mk 10; Ultraworld Ten)Paterson, Jimmy Cauty, Minnie Riperton, Richard Rudolph, Simon Darlow, Stephen Lipson, Bruce Woolley, Trevor Horn18:49
Total length:26:57
  • On CD, Sides 1 & 2 appeared on Disc 1 (the "orbit compact disc") and Sides 3 & 4 appeared on Disc 2 (the "ultraworld compact disc".)

Original US release[edit]

2006 UK deluxe edition[edit]

Tracks details[edit]

Instrumentation and samples[edit]


Credits for The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld adapted from liner notes.[5]

  • Alex Paterson – production, engineering, mixing
  • Jimmy Cauty – production ("A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld")
  • Andy Falconer – production ("Into the Fourth Dimension"), engineering, mixing
  • Thomas Fehlmann – mixing
  • Miquette Giraudy – production ("Supernova at the End of the Universe", "Back Side of the Moon")
  • Steve Hillage – production ("Supernova at the End of the Universe", "Back Side of the Moon")
  • Greg Hunter – engineering (assistant)
  • Eddie Maiden – production ("Perpetual Dawn")
  • Guy Pratt – bass ("Spanish Castles in Space")
  • Tim Russell – engineering, mixing
  • Kris "Thrash" Weston – engineering, mixing
  • Youth – production ("Little Fluffy Clouds"), mixing

Release history[edit]

Cover of a 2006 reissued 3-CD deluxe edition
Year Format Label Catalogue no.[20]
1991 CD Big Life 314-511034-2
1991 Cassette Big Life 314-511034-4
1991 CD Big Life 511034
1991 Cassette Big Life 511034
1994 CD Big Life, Island Red 535005
1994 Cassette Big Life, Island Red 535005
1994 CD Big Life BRDCD5
2006 CD Island, Universal 948,002-2


  1. ^ Prendergast, pp. 407–412.
  2. ^ a b Bush, John. "The Orb (Biography)". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  3. ^ Toop 1995, pp. 61–62.
  4. ^ Toop, David (3 June 1994). "Don't make negative waves". The Times.
  5. ^ a b c The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (liner notes). The Orb. Big Life. 1991. 847963-1.
  6. ^ a b Bush, John. "The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld – The Orb". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  8. ^ a b Sherman (13 April 1996). "The Orb – Adventures Beyond The Ultra World". NME. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  9. ^ Wolk, Douglas (2004). "The Orb". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 604–05. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  10. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (19 August 2002). "The Orb: The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  11. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  12. ^ Brown, Russell (March 1991). "The Orb: The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld". Select (9): 76.
  13. ^ "Top 30 Albums of 1991". Melody Maker. December 1991. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Greatest Albums of All Time". NME: 29. 2 October 1993. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  15. ^ Gehr, Richard (September 1999). "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s — The Orb, The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld". Spin. 15 (9): 160. Archived from the original on 16 February 2001. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Top 50 Dance Albums Of All Time". Muzik (81). February 2002. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  17. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (30 June 2002). "The 25 Greatest Electronic Albums of the 20th Century". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. 17 November 2003. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  19. ^ "YouTube". Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  20. ^ "The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld – The Orb (Releases)". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 November 2015.


External links[edit]