After all of the advance promotion and social media hype for this album, I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by The Orbserver In The Star House when I finally picked up a copy on CD.
I’d whet my appetite on the continuous drum-roll of preview mixes and pre-release samplers, but somehow it felt lightweight and flimsy when listening to it in its physical form; a throwaway piece of dub/crossover fluff, and the result of little more than a few weeks worth of studio frivolity for Alex Paterson and Lee Perry. A wee bit of fun on the side, before each man returned to whatever else they had on the go.
A few months on, I’ve softened on that first impression. It may well still be all of those things, but having repeatedly taken this out on a series of road trips over the past three months or so, having given it the car audio treatment, having “open road tested” it, if you like, I can unequivocally state that it’s every bit the carefully crafted work of art I initially anticipated it would be.
It isn’t as though the build up wasn’t justified. Each man is a production genius, a past master in the art of what was once considered cutting edge dub, a student and innovator of the form. It seems only natural that the pair should collaborate in the studio sooner or later. That it wasn’t sooner is the only surprise.
With dubstep and its confusing multitude of sub-genres dominating the bass music landscape, there would undoubtedly have been temptation for Paterson and Perry to deviate from what they know. To offer their own unique take on the latest trends. That they didn’t, that they stuck to the tried and trusted forms of what each man does so well, is of some relief, and it offers no little testimony to the collective self belief that runs right through The Orbserver In The Star House. Some of it might be distinctly “old school”, but if that’s the case, it’s a seat of learning that today’s young tykes can only marvel at and learn from.
Perry is once again in imperious form with his stream of consciousness ranting and raving, toasting atop of Paterson’s electro noodlings to create an upbeat and warm summery vibe throughout. None of Perry’s observations are especially profound but they’re frequently offbeat and humorous … more “sly grin” than “laugh out loud”.
No, this isn’t an album that you can take too seriously. Yes, there is something distinctly off-the-cuff about it, and yes, it may be lightweight and fluffy in nature, but what I hadn’t realised at the outset was that all of those elements are a big part of its ongoing appeal.
Definitely one for the summer.
Highlights: ‘Ball of Fire’, ‘Soulman’, ‘Hold Me Upsetter’, ‘Golden Clouds’, and one of the most unusual takes on Junior Murvin’s ‘Police And Thieves’ that you’re ever likely to hear.
There’s been a few great remixes of material sourced from the album already, here’s the popular OICHO remix of Golden Clouds: