“I don’t particularly want to pick up an instrument,” said Alex Paterson, founder of the ambient house pioneering entity, the Orb, “I want to pick all these sounds and make musical notes of these sounds.”
If that isn’t the most fitting mindset for Moogfest, I don’t know what is. That bit was quoted from the Orb’s recent biopic, Lunar Orbit, which is making its North American Premier at Moogfest and debuted earlier this year at the Manchester Film Festival, another quite fitting spot for a dance-music history lesson in the form of celluloid (figuratively speaking…does anyone actually film on ‘film’ these days?).
Directed by Patrick Buchanan, the film stalks Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann (“You ever get the feeling you’re being followed Thomas?”) from Berlin to Brixton during the making of their 2015 release, Moonbuilding 2703AD, from studio sessions to club gigs. After decades of hearing how these guys tick, we get to see how the magic comes together, how the osmosis takes place between one and the other.
A quote from Lunar Orbit’s trailer hits the Orb spot on, “It was kind of like ripping up the rule book for electronic music,” when describing their approach and style. When developing their main groove of a track, that rhythm origin “Doesn’t necessarily mean drums,” said Fehlmann.
Taking their most recognized track, “Fluffy Clouds,” a young woman is describing the skies in Arizona through the entire song. But the sound textures are so gorgeous, you immediately envision those purple, red, and yellow hues. Over the years the Orb continued to become the masters of samples, with layers upon layers of subtle sounds, that when meshed together, grew into a big sound that weaved its way under and into your skin.
The songs on Moonbuilding 2703AD, which are featured in the film, are more liken to musical excursions than songs, clocking at between nine and fourteen minutes each. It’s luxurious to get lost in each one, to escape the concept of time through those low lying beats, slices of sound, and space-age bubbles tickling your ears and brain cells.
Members of the Orb, both Paterson and Fehlmann, will make a rare appearance with director Buchanan with a Q&A after the screening of Lunar Orbit at Moogfest. This is a one-showing-only, must-see event – Thursday, May 19 3:30pm – 5:30pm, at Carolina Theatre, Cinema 1, 309 W Morgan St. Go to www.moogfest.com for tickets.