Episode 3 of my Ran$om Note Column
FILLING THE VOID
Kris Elizabeth Weston
Episode #3 The Butthurt history of ‘Adventures beyond how many joints its possible to smoke in an afternoon’ by The Orb
Congratulations to Universal ‘Music’ Group. In the last year alone they have illegally released three albums containing my music and, in the last ten years, they have released at least 5 retrospectives containing the same music. To commemorate this auspicious and unique occasion, I would like to string flowers through your hair and lead you by the hand on a magical tour of my dusty thinkhole, particularly the cob-webbed section marked 1990. Imagine falling head first, mouth open into a cess pool. That kind of thing. Although not a review as such, I have given each track a rating out of ten for your amusement. If you have never heard of the above album, the following will make absolutely no sense to you whatsoever. Good.
Strap yourself in…
Mind-cam pans to Berwick Street Studios in the early 1990s, home of the beautiful Paulette, Rod Gammon (the Wombles producer) and loads of shitty bands I had to record. This was the place that Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld by The Orb was put together under the masterful guidance of Duncan Robert Alexandra Patterson (Dr LX Patterson/DRAP). However, the best thing about the place was Paulette, by quite a large margin. I have never heard of anyone licking ajax off their fingers before, I’m sure that cant be good for you.
Anyway. DRAP had ’employed’ a hodge-podge of producers and musicians to come together to make an album that had a brand of ‘afterclub spacey music for when yer off yer face on shitloads of drugs‘. It was packaged in a sleeve that Pink Floyd might have created if, rather than going to public school, they had all been living it up on disability benefits.
I was formerly a house engineer at Berwick Street recording studios and I was one of the chaotic smorgasbord of producers/artists that was employed to work on this kind of flukey album. l remember the time fondly, and the studio itself. Rod Gammon Steak (The Wombles) was the studio owner and he was a fat prick, if I remember correctly. He once fell asleep with his head on a glass table, a small puddle of dribble collecting around his mouth, after asking for ‘a little bit of that wacky backy we were smoking‘. The comedy value of a stoned womble proved too much for me and I rolled a great long pretend backy joint for him with with no actual wacky in it. A fairly resounding conclusion to the Berwick Street placebo tests and a powerful illustration of psychosomatic symptoms, I think. In fact, it could be said that without the Wombles and Great Uncle Bulge Area, The Orb would never have existed.
DRAP’s production ethos for Ultraworld was very much like a DJ tape, fly in silly samples over the top of other peoples music, which I suppose was part of its appeal (to people other than me). Each track was very different, mostly because it was made by a completely different human being, but the samples sort of tied it together a bit. Most people who already know Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld probably have the impression that DRAP conceived and wrote the keyboards, melodies or beats but DRAP was an A&R man from EG Records and he mostly knew how to get his music business contacts booked into a studio. These people were there to recreate the records he played on his decks and he would fly samples over the top, but have very little to say about the music the artists were actually making. I thinks its fair to say, DRAP was present in these sessions in the same way a spare tyre is present in most vehicles.
So to recap: some poor bastards write the music, DRAP spews some samples on top and hey presto, genius production, somehow cowritten by him. DRAP tells the copyright societies that he played the instruments on all these records including the ones myself and others played the instruments on and Bish Bosh Bash. Job done. DRAP has been claiming my royalties for years and refuses to pay them back. I imagine he owes me over 100K, god knows, as he has been claiming them for 15 years.
This album brings to mind those other drugaddled royalty thieves Primal Scream. Their album ‘Screamadelica’ was another hodge podge of producers and people which I had first hand experience of. When people say Primal Scream made a good album there, they don’t understand how record companies made bands into brands at some point. They imagine the members of the band make every noise that they hear. The Orb illustrate this perfectly on their latest release, still flogging my old rope from 20 years ago and the only name on the cover is DRAP, even going to far as to remove my name from the individual tracks, crediting them as ‘The Orb’. It doesn’t matter who plays or produces the actual music, its a brand – but peeps are comfortable, of course, sticking with their preferred brands, like for example Pedigree Chum, because it smears so nicely over yer bellend. The media speaks, the public accepts what it says blindly. That’s the way it works. This goes for many things, not just music. People ignorantly believe the world of their media.
One thing I’ve learnt from being at these sessions and then listening to the crap people ( who weren’t there ) come out with afterwards about this album, is that the constructs people make for themselves in their minds are so far off from reality its amusing. I have applied this knowledge to other areas of media, and you start to see through the bullshit. Human beings rely on far too little critical thinking in their narrative construction, and in fact are trained against such activities at state schools. It was unavoidable to use slightly technical language for a small part of the following, my apologies to laymen and I would like to laywomen:
On with the magical journey through the hippy space love branded cocaine and ego trip.
The Orb: Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
01. Little Fluffy Clouds
‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ was based on a cassette tape sent to DRAP by a guy called Simon from Birmingham. The cassette contained a Rikky Lee Jones interview on one side and Steve Reich and Pat Methany’s ‘Electric Counterpoint’ on the other.
DRAP took the tape over to The Coach House, a bedroom studio owned by his cocksucker mate, Youth (old). They worked together one evening and made a short demo out of Simon’s idea (who has never been credited as far as I know). In terms of instruments, DRAP was on spliff’s and Adam Morris ( The Orbs manager ) was on cups of tea with Youth arranging the sample loops. When it got to me it was a mess. This wasn’t created at Berwick Street, this was done in Fulham at Steve Levines Studio ‘Do Not Erase’. Because Youth doesn’t have a fucking Scooby about anything he had whacked a 3/4 sample that shifted key every two bars over a one bar keyboard line looping in the same key. I was familiar with (and loved) the Reich/Methany album and I suggested they use the other guitar sample as I liked it better. It was also 3’s time so I cut it up in the AKAI S1100 and just repeated a beat :) I know amateur hour, but whatever.
The keyboard and bass line had to be changed to fit it, which I also did and then Youth did his world famous sample start point twiddle on the S1100 with Rikki Lee Jones’ voice. When I say world famous, I mean shite. I didn’t think it was possible to get overenthusiastic with a fucking 80’s Coldcut impression, but there you go. The drums were sampled from Nilsson’s track ‘Jump Into The Fire’, which is what we did really with that sample as it was never cleared and the drummer was later banged in prison for murdering his mum with a hammer. Perhaps he heard our amateur shit and just snapped. Who knows. I’m just glad I still have my head, however ugly it is. The whole thing was completed in a day and that’s it. I suppose you could say my role was that of performer / producer / engineer / mixer. Obviously I don’t get any money for any of that.
Not much else to say about this really. Its quite a lumbering piece of music. Go listen to Steve Reich instead ? If you really want you can whack Rikki Lee Jones with a cold over the top of him. Lets face it the other elements are pants, no matter what the nostalgia value or how many trips you were on when you heard it at Glastonbury.
Rating: Fishing the style of intellectuals. 2/10 – i also give myself 3/10 for the mix. Shoddy. In addition I give it 10 points for the amount of turd polishing royalties I receive. i.e. None.
02. Earth (Gaia)
This was the only track on the album I was ‘writing’ on – which means the only track I get royalties for. Don’t act all surprised. The prevalent technique seems to be; recruit young talented engineers / artists and designate them as ‘engineers’ for the session. This means if they write anything or produce the track in any way – they don’t get paid any royalties for it because they were hired to ‘engineer’, regardless of whether or not they wrote the entire track themselves or made major production decisions. It’s an industry standard. I have seen this happen countless times and I’ve had it happen to me countless times too. This is glossed over too much in the industry, this is ILLEGAL and its ripping people off. The industry needs to stop laying down and accepting this. David ‘er hip hoppy?’ Holmes comes to mind. Another plank who has a record collection and that’s basically where his talent ends. I don’t think he got up from the back of the room for the entire two days I worked for him and his summary input into the drum track was ‘er, hip hoppy’. I suppose for me it comes down to the fact that I just don’t know if I count selecting a good loop or piece of sound as a talent much really. Sorry Djs.
‘Oh no no, David writes all the parts’ said the record company when negotiating the money before the session. Does he fuck.
‘Earth (Gaia)’ consists of a large amount of samples provided from DRAP’s record collection and some really crappy synth programming by me using Drawmer gate keying, the sort of effect beginner engineers use a couple of times once they discover it exists. Unless of course they are into shitty trance music, in which case they base their lives on it. The track is kind of rubbish but a lot of people have said they like it to me, which only goes to confirm my opinion that most people are deaf as a fucking post.
It was done in one day at ‘Do Not Erase’ studios hence the complexity of sound design and drum programming.
Rating: Of no relevance to the human race 1/10
03. Supernova at the end of the Universe
04. Back side of the moon
These two tracks are essentially the same track remixed. I seem to remember fucking around with these in another studio called Marcus in Fulham but I cant remember now if the final mix was there or Berwick Street. Guess it says on the label but I cant be arsed to look it up. Sorry bout that. They were made by Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy with the break composed by Melvin Bliss and selected by DRAP from a 1989 Def Jef record called ‘Black to the Future’, probably completely oblivious of Mr. Bliss. lulz.
Mostly this track was made by Miquette – she does the amazing synths on Steve’s work and on ‘Blue Room’ actually with her EMS suitcase model. I ‘programmed’ and mixed it – which means I looped up crap in the Atari 1040 and had the loops on the mixing desk, cutting things in and out with the mutes to make the arrangement of the track. That’s how I did everything in those days using delay and other effects to go between sections. A nice spontaneous way of working although the use of shitty 16 bit DAT tapes in those days when most studios had a fat Studer 2track just sitting there was slightly doh.
I cant emphasise enough how fucking excellent Miquette is and how useless and irrelevant Steve ‘ping pong delay’ Spillage and DRAP are. She has actual talent. He was in Gong ffs.
Argh! I’m just listening to it now. at least he didn’t go into that gay blues cliché thing he does. Must have been nodding out. Oh god. Here comes the astronaut. Run.
Around this time the royalty thief Martin Glover (Youth) (old) had just come back from India and he was doing all the cunty hippy cliché things. Looking like a Rajistani Jesus, eating endless bowls of lentils and insisting on incense and Indian carpets hanging everywhere in the studio. To be fair, It was quite nice in the studio to have it more homely n stuff as it goes, but the guy once spent £50,000 ‘vibing up’ a studio with candles so is obv a wankstain on the duvet of humanity.
Rating: 3/10 – i like elements of these tracks. Miquette is fantastic, I think her creations really conjur the feeling of LSD. The mix is absolute crap. Whoever did that is a cunt. Argh whats that crappy reverb in there. Jesus. Turn it off.
05. Spanish Castles In Space
‘Spanish Castles In Space’ was written by the late Jake Le Mesurier, the son of Hatti Jaques and someone else whos famous for something or other. Who cares. Anyway this was actually quite a cleverly created track. He was pretty good that Jake. The title was stolen from Jimi Hendrix obv. The bass was made from double bass samples and everything was programmed on keyboards by Jake in CLAB on the Atari 1040ST, which had some excellent features at the time, I liked the way of working. Then Guy (the) Pratt, an old chum from Youth and DRAP’s days in reform school, came down. He was another massive cokehead (perhaps he’s stopped now, who knows or cares). He laid these sort of bendy harmonics on it and a few touches to make it sound a bit more live. I think he did quite nice stuff on it.
The piano sample is of ‘Spartacus Love Theme’ from the actual musician Bill Evans, who I dearly love and to be honest its offensive sampling him like this but there you go. DRAP whacked a coupla vocal samples on it and there you go Genius production sorted and everyone can now thank him for composing such a cool track by adding a Russian astronaut over the top of Jakes music that another fan from oop North sent him.
This track is honoured by being featured on ‘Limmy’s Show’, the strange and thoughtful Scottish comedian, who I have taken quite a shine to. I think Guy Pratt started shagging some Pink Floyd family member or summatin the end, not sure if it was male or female. He ended up in the band (Pink Floyd) and went on the ‘Pulse’ world tour with them.
Could have just as easily stayed in with a ‘Jurassic Park’ DVD.
Rating: 4/10 no bad – bit dated mind. Probably the best piece of music on the album along with the Miquette Giraudy tracks
01. Perpetual Dawn
This annoying track was written by Eddie Maiden. Again, it was written before anyone else really had a say and he then brought the data to Berwick Street. DRAP provided his genius production again by giving me a bloke going ‘diddly diddly woo whatevs’ to sample and then looping it over the track and sitting at the back skinning up saying jack shit for the rest of the session. I dubbed it on the desk onto crappy DAT tape.
It seems over time, the people who made these tracks have been slowly wiped out and replaced with DRAP. When you look up this track on Wikipedia for example what you get is a description of how this record was made by ‘The Orb’ – with no mention of Eds (RIP) name at all. And the same goes for Universals last release of The Orb which had DRAPs name on the cover without anyone else.
I find this type of shit problematic, in that DRAP has tried to continually associate himself with me despite the fact I think he’s a total cunt who has knowingly stolen off me and refuses to pay the considerable amount of money back. e.g. On the ‘Voyage into Paradise’ compilation he happily put a mix of me dubbing the fuck out of Killing Joke but DRAP wasn’t even there, I did that with Greg Hunter. Rather predictably, the mixes surface on the internet with DRAP’s name in the title, like he had anything to do with it at all.
The mix had a particular name, coined by Greg, (a floating leaf always reaches the sea) which they removed, along with mine and Greg’s name as well, thereby making it look like they did the track. Now its just ‘Killing Joke’ in dub. The cheek of their recent crowdfunding of a bunch of mixes they had lying around is truly jawdropping (while talking of the effort it took to put it all together, gimme a fucking break). How they had the bare faced cheek to crowd fund an album and put my mix on I just cant fathom either. They actually crowdfunded it after making that much cash out of ripping people off!$?! Personally I think crowdfunding should only be for poor people. People like Youth and Amanda Palmer are just rich leeches with no talent whatsoever.
Youth, you couldn’t dub your way out of a wet paper bag dipshit.
I have met so many people that hate Youth. I had one guy mailed me recently out of the blue saying he used to work for him and blah blah what an exploiting cunt he was and he’s not even the tenth person I’ve met saying the same shit. Its always the same story. I swear you could get an army together of people that want to smack Youth in the mouth. It would probably result in a fight over who gets to hit him first.
Shortly after the album Youth did a version of Perpetual Dawn, which was possibly the worst thing I’ve ever heard. It ended up on the US version despite everyone hating it, because Youth had sway at the record company. When Ed heard it he actually started crying it was that bad. Seriously.
Rating: 0/10 this track is annoying, Weatherall and Wobble sorted it out in the end.
02. Into the Fourth Dimension
Here’s another gay track made by an absolute plank (Andy Falconer). I’ve already publicly gone into how this was made: Steam down HMV to get some ‘classical’ Cds. Whack an entire classical composition over the top of your crappy breaks n shit and Voilà! A good afternoons ‘musical’ work. Bish Bosh Bash. Job done. I mean job done if you want to make some shite. I was incredulous at the lack of effort on this afternoon’s session, and didn’t do jack on it thankfully.
Rating: 0/10 shit made by a cunt. Fuck i hate this guy. He has of course since traded on this afternoons work for the rest of his life along with anyone else who sneezed near any of the sessions.
Outlands was made by Thomas ‘Auschwitz’ Fehlmann, whose unfortunate emaciated look seems to be a result of a bummining trip to bleteguese 5, or perhaps he is indulging in an elaborate and strangely timed solidarity hunger strike for the Jews his country brutalised and murdered in WW2. This was made at his studio in Berlin, so I had no experience of it before we mixed it at Berwick Street. I quite like the track, but since watching Fehlmann play my tune (Plateau) to a roomfull of people boasting about his ‘flowy style’ I dunno, I’ve kind of fallen out of love with him slightly to put it mildly, a bit.
Rating: 2/10 infested with musical Ebola.
04. Star 6 & 7 8 9
Tom Greens African influenced electronic chill track isn’t too bad really, apart from the ‘digitalness’ of it all – it suffers from the keyboard sounds of the time and sounds quite dated now, but the melodies in it are lovely. Tom is still a friend but that doesn’t mean hes not getting 1/10. As we can see here from this pre-DRAP demo mix, the entire track was made at Toms Studio in Brixton and just brought in to add samples on top of, so again I cant say much about the creative process it took to get there. Here we can see how different the track was to the finished article it became. i.e. er not much. This was one of my (and others) favourite tracks at the time, and probably the most musically skilful on the album along with Jake and Miquettes tracks.
Over to Tom Green of ‘Another Fine Day’:
The drums have gone in the album version (magically reappeared on the remix) and there’s a few samples splattered on top but essentially its not much different.
Rating: actually 0/10 cos I don’t want to make concessions for friends hehe :)
05. A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld
Live Mix Mk 10
The tracks title was taken from a BBC sound effects record. If the BBC hadn’t made its collection of sound effects records and if the Tape Beatles never made their awesome ‘Music With Sound’ record, half of The Orb back catalogue would be a cover of John Cage’s ‘4m 33s’. DRAP often just used to put an entire album of other peoples music over stuff live, guess he couldn’t be bothered to press the next track button. And Brian Eno too, just whack Brian Eno tracks over the top of the live gig. Shudder.
Jimmy Cauty wrote the music of this track and I love the OBX synth loop on this, its one of those loops that can go round forever. They are quite rare actually. I think its one of the few things hes done that is any good apart from Chill out. If he indeed did any of that. Who knows these days. He apologised recently to me for stealing my royalties as well. It has a Grace Jones sample in it. At some point in the future people will have to make music that is worthy of being sampled or these DJs are going to be fucked and that means unfortunately horribly torturing and killing stars like Rhianna and One Direction. Stars that are almost a living embodiment and indeed celebration of banality and nothingness. The pinnacle of our declining empire, the zenith of our culture of nothing, the corporate rule of cash and the sterilisation of music.
Rating: 2/10 I would rather listen to the hour long version of ‘Spanish Flea’ by Herb Alpert.
The next disk cobbles some other vaguely related mixes together purely so Universal can justify the ‘DELUXE’ sticker on the front and sell this shit for the 27,000 through, its all just different versions of this crap. Yawn. I don’t even know if they are repressing that disc, and my investigative journalism energy ran out on paragraph 1.
This album was intensely funny to make. I was laughing for practically the entire album, it was really really good fun, the dreadlocked assistant James constantly creating various devices christened ‘The Scud’ and ‘The Tulip’ which were used to smoke mountains of marijuana. There was a burglary halfway through and all sorts.
Its only the rewriting of history and the constant milking of my shit after that’s poisoned it really. Basically this was the fluke of DRAP’s life and its served him well ever after. As a result, he’s managed to sell shit to people off the back of it for 20 years. Not bad going I reckon.
Back in the days of analogue multitrack recording, there was a lot of tape hanging around so we decided to give Rob the Womble a parting present at the end of the album. Once the sessions had finished we wrapped the entire studio in magnetic tape. It went through the ceiling tiles, we even unscrewed rack equipment to weave it behind the most ridiculous stuff. It took ages and by the time we were done everything was completely covered in tape from floor to ceiling, you couldn’t hardly move.
Ah, Rod’s white face as he came back from wombling in the studio was a picture to behold., Shouldda got a photo really. Here, look in my mind, there it is. Good huh. Yeah. Ok get out of my mind now. Fuck. I think i got mind crabs.
End of story.
Disclaimer: Kris Weston is currently trying to smuggle nuclear information in from Pakistan in order to launch a nuclear strike at the Universal Records HQ. Everything he says is a lie.