[sic] Magazine

David Gilmour / The Orb – Metallic Spheres

Born from a remix of Gilmour’s cover of ‘Chicago’, Metallic Spheres is that most proggy of things, a joint collaboration between David Gilmour (guitar, vocals, effects), and long-in-the-tooth, and now relatively obscure ambient dub pioneers The Orb : At second glance, this collaboration makes perfect sense, right from the start of their career The Orb were referencing Gilmour’s work (lifting wholesale parts of his work on Pink Floyd albums for their first radio session), building enormous, luxurious ambient soundscapes akin to the longer Floyd material, and, later on, working with, and remixing, Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright’s solo material.

‘Metallic Spheres’ continues the tradition. To say that, these days, The Orb write songs is.. optimistic. Their work on this album is the most accessible in a decade or more – certainly since 2001’s ‘Cydonia’ – and dominates the piece, with an assortment of delicate keyboard lines, floating, barely-audible sounds, and, from time to time, pulsing crescendos of instrumentation and precise rhythms that remind me of nothing more than ‘Broken China’ (Rick Wrights under-rated 1996 solo album forged from material he worked on during, and after, Floyd’s final studio album ‘The Division Bell’). On these sumptuous works, The Orb create rhythmic, pounding backbeats – think, if you will Floyds ‘Echoes’, (or perhaps Floyd alumni Roger Waters , ‘What God Wants’) tinged with the kind of precise, yet otherworldly keyboard and piano lines that sound alien and otherworldly. Sadly, hardly anyone would be buying or listening to this were it the work of The Orb on their own. Enter David Gilmour.

Gilmour, whose textured, and unhurried playing adds an imaginative space to any song, a man who knows it’s as much about what you don’t play as what you do, brings to these tracks an innate understanding of melody and atmosphere. It’s difficult, as such to say what exactly these songs are; fragments reminiscent of solos and textures in his other work, the drawn out, infinite lines of many an intro to many a Floyd record, and Gilmour’s lesser known soundtrack stuff. In many ways, ‘Metallic Spheres’, is a summation of many years of work, taking lessons from the soundtracks to ‘The Colours From Infinity’ using rhythms as the foundation of a layered, considered texture of guitars, both the kind of delicate, keening, distinctive solos that have become Gilmour’s unique voice, and the more subtle, acoustic strums that underpin much of his work. To an extent, ‘Metallic Spheres’ is a fitting statement, a wish fulfilled for some, being an hour long ambient, atmospheric, largely instrumental work by Gilmour comprised almost exclusively of guitar-led, elegant sounds and with The Orb channelling the restrained character of The Floyds instrumental passages to create a initially unlikely, but rewarding piece of music that is, perhaps, up there with some of the most atmospheric work from either of them.


The Orb

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