On March 27th Cooking Vinyl present ‘Abolition of the Royal Familia’ – the 17th album by prolific electronic godfather Alex Paterson and his rotating roster of collaborative cohorts. It forms part two of a pair – a continuation of the same “anything goes” ethos as the previous, critically-acclaimed long-player ‘No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds’.
This new offering marks the first with Paterson and Michael Rendall as main writing partners, with the new blood having risen-up-the-ranks from a member of The Orb’s touring band, to a studio engineer, and now graduated to half of the fully-fledged core duo. The pair also took over production duties from Youth, who corralled sessions for the last LP.
‘Abolition…’ features guest turns from Youth, Roger Eno, Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy (from Gong and System 7), On U-Sound’s David Harrow, Alex’s dog Ruby, a 17-year-old trumpeter called Oli Cripps (who was working a Saturday job in Alex’s local record shop when the pair met), his cousin Leyton on whistle, real strings courtesy of Violetta, and a whole lot more (listed below).
With its provocative, mafia-alluding title, Hogarth/Chapman Brothers inspired cover by artist Pure Evil and a no-longer-present sample of Prince Charles (removed for litigious reasons), it’s clear that ‘Abolition..’ continues The Orb’s recent run of records which protest against the establishment, albeit in their own roundabout and idiosyncratic way.
The album is in part inspired by and in retrospective protest of the royal family’s historical endorsement of the East India Company’s opium trade, which was hugely damaging to India and caused two wars with China in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Humour, samples, deep ambience, cerebral throbbing dub, classic house, the white island, hip hop, psych and heartbreakingly beautiful contemporary composition are recognisably present, as is, perhaps less expectedly, a proudly pop element:
The journey commences in light mood with the breezy Balearica of ‘Daze’, followed by the cowbell heavy, rude bass powered ‘House of Narcotics’ – both of which feature Andy Cain (of Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald’s house gems ‘I’m Your Brother’ and ‘A New Day’ fame). Incidentally, the House of Narcotics is apparently what other countries called our royal family, during the aforementioned opium years.
Having met Steven Hawking at a lecture and later being told that the legendary cosmologist used to listen to The Orb, the pulsing technotrance of ‘Hawk Kings’ is Patterson’s tribute, which he describes as “a monster of a tune, in a similar mood to ‘Assassin’ and ‘Toxygene’”. An embryonic version of ‘Honey Moonies’ went down a storm at Youth’s Space Mountain Festival in southern Spain, and with the finished article’s vintage deep sunrise house, it’s easy to see why.
An ironic juxtaposition (named as it is after a methamphetamine given to German soldiers in WW2), ‘Pervitin’ marks the first in a passage of epic ambient gems, which follows with the orchestral, WNBC radio referencing ‘Afros, Afghans and Angels’, and onto ‘Shape Shifters (in two parts)’, which segues from blue jazz beauty into pimped-out-funk-meets-dub.
Bass-heavy reggae vibes continue on the brass and melodica of ‘Say Cheese’ and onto the chugging, hip hop rubadub of ‘Ital Orb’. The warm happy glow of ‘Queen of Hearts’ nods to classic jungle and the ‘Weekend It Rained Forever’ is a 12-minute masterpiece of stunning ambient perfection. The album closes with ‘Slave Till U Die No Matter What U Buy’ – a cosmic overhaul of Jello Biafra’s ‘Stay In Your Home’.
Michael Rendall, Roger Eno, Youth, Steve Hillage, Miquette Giraudy, Nick Burton, Violeta Vicci, Gaudi, David Harrow, Roney FM, Sherman, Paul Conboy, Ollie Cripps, Andy Cain, cousin Leyton and Ruby the dog
1. ‘Daze’ – Missing & Messed Up Mix
2. ‘House of Narcotics’ – Opium Wars Mix
3. ‘Hawk Kings’ – Oseberg Buddhas Buttonhole
4. ‘Honey Moonies’ – Brain Washed at Area 49 Mix
5. ‘Pervitin’ – Empire Culling & The Hemlock Stone Version
6. ‘Afros, Afghans and Angels’ – Helgö Treasure Chest
7. ‘Shape Shifters (in two parts)’ – Coffee & Ghost Train Mix
8. ‘Say Cheese’ – Siberian Tiger Cookie Mix
9. ‘Ital Orb’ – Too Blessed To Be Stressed Mix
10. ‘The Queen of Hearts’ – Princess Of Clubs Mix
11. ‘The Weekend it Rained Forever’ – Oseberg Buddha Mix (The Ravens Have Left The Tower)
12. ‘Slave Till U Die No Matter What U Buy’ – L’anse Aux Meadows Mix
Friday 22nd May: Leeds – Leeds Beckett student union, with support from Mad Professor (live) and Don Letts (DJ)
Saturday 23rd May: Newcastle – Northumbria Institute, with support from Mad Professor (live) and Don Letts (DJ)
Sunday 24th May: Glasgow – Barrowland Ballroom, with support from Mad Professor (live) and Don Letts (DJ)
Wednesday 27th May: Birmingham – O2 Institute, with support from Mad Professor (live) and Don Letts (DJ)
Thursday 28th May: Manchester – O2 Ritz, with support from Mad Professor (live) and Don Letts (DJ)
Friday 29th May: London – All Points East
Saturday 30th May: Bristol – SWX, with support from Mad Professor (live) and Don Letts (DJ)