In About Four Seconds A Teacher Will Begin To Speak—Dr. Alex Paterson Of The Orb

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ORB

Dr. Alex Paterson has the antidote. Actually, he’s had it for quite a while.

A roadie for inflammatory Seventies metal band Killing Joke, Alex Paterson formed The Orb with KLF co-conspirator Jimi Cauty in 1989, but due to creative (and financial) differences, had a rather contentious split shortly thereafter. Since then, the group has featured a cast of highly talented players, including Killing Joke bassist Youth, Kris “Thrash” Weston and Thomas Fehlmann. With deep reggae roots, a penchant for long form vocal samples and a flair for the sinister, the Orb has been one of the most consistent ambient house groups of the last decade. And the older he gets, the more prolific Paterson becomes.

Dropping tomorrow (11/11/11) is C Batter C, The Orb’s next album project with graphic artist/video maker Mike Coles. It’s a powerfully evocative audio-visual celebration of family, vanishing London and times gone by.

The unique package is the physical manifestation of Battersea Bunches, the film shown at Brixton’s Red Gate Gallery last December along with an exhibition of related visuals by Colesy. The soundtrack is a 17-minute piece written by Alex and the esteemed Berlin-based electronic pioneer Thomas Fehlmann—an Orb satellite member for over 20 years now.

They always say the best decades are the ones you can’t remember.

Boarding school gave me a good musical grounding. I met Youth [from Killing Joke] there. Another major player in my life is Guy Pratt, and he was at that school as well.

A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain… we’re never going to go back to that sound again. That was something that was there for the experience of me and Jimi [Cauty] doing a track.

Chill out lounges were really big in the late Eighties. People needed to have music they could play, then go talk to their mates, then come back and put on another CD. We fit that moment with Blue Room.

I don’t think people’s attention spans are as long as they were before. But that might just be me being old. I used to listen to Eno and one track would finish after 50 seconds, and I just wished it would go on forever. But I got my frustrations out, thanks. I don’t think I’ll ever do a 40-minute mix of anything. Quite possibly 20 minutes. I find that quite exhilarating.

I’ve got a lot of respect for Brian Eno, but the geezer apparently took a disliking to me because he thought I stole his thunder. It was strange how he could lower himself to think like that, to be honest.

You always get pulled over by the police if you ever drive a white transit van in London. It’s notoriously true.

I was a bit of a chess master when I was little, and I used to whip everybody in the youth club. Mates of mine who were big reggae boys were like, Show us those moves, man. And I said, Only if you lend me a reggae record. And that’s how it happened. I went down to Desmond’s Hip City, which was the reggae shop in Brixton in ’75 and ’76, and I was one of the only white boys in there. By chance, one of the girls from my youth club was working behind the decks and just called me over and said come play all the tunes you want. That was that.

Getting to know Mad Professor on a very personal level is like the cream on top, and DJing with Lee Scratch Perry is sort of like the cherry on the cream on top. Ya get me? I’m a happy man.

One time Jaz [Coleman of Killing Joke] had a girlfriend and she invited the band to come down and write some music in her house. We ended up living there six months…all of us. That’s what we were like in those days.

It expands human consciousness to know where we stand in the universe, and that we’re just a tiny dot in amongst other tinier and bigger dots. Grains of sand mean nothing to the universe. That’s what we need to understand.

Strange things happen to you when you get to 40. You start looking forwards rather than looking at yourself in the mirror all the time.

It’s like a losing battle sometimes, the reggae thing. It’s not in my blood, but it’s definitely in me. Ska was played all the time when I was in my youth club. That’s where it really took off for me.

Did America ever go to the moon? I think it’s all one big hoax myself.

KLF put the Chill Out album out, which was basically a bunch of my DJ sessions at Trancentral which I never got credited for. That was one of the major reasons why Jimi and I split up. It was becoming apparent to me that everything he said he had given me, he never gave me. That shaped quite a lot of things in my head. Never to be ripped off again, I suppose. Don’t worry, I got ripped off again. But as Jimi said to me, you’re never really famous until you’ve been ripped off.

Doing music people can dream to. That’s what we’re about.

Some magic thing might happen one day and a major label might want me because there’s a big scam on an old Orb record. Then all of a sudden the Orb will become really big and everybody will be re-releasing Orb records. That’d be really scary, but it’d be really good for my daughter and plans for a new family.

You’re a bloke. Women don’t expect you to do anything other than that, mate. You’ll never grow up. Men never grow up.

There’s an Ennio Morricone harmonica from Fist Full of Dollars, but no one’s ever called me up about it. And though no one would really ever know, the drums come from a drum break on Harry Nilsson’s Schmilsson. I’ve always maintained that apart from the synth line, everything else [in] Little Fluffy Clouds is sampled. Even down to the vocals, which we all know about.

I guess the last train to Trancentral isn’t necessarily the last one, then.

This is David Harrow's remix of Battersea Bunches from the book/album/DVD C Batter C