The Orb is an English electronic music group known for being the pioneers of ambient house. Founded in 1988 by Alex Paterson and The KLF member Jimmy Cauty and their early performances were inspired by ambient and electronic artists of the 1970s and 1980s, most notably Brian Eno and Kraftwerk. Because of their sound, the Orb developed a cult following among clubbers coming down from drug-induced highs. Paterson has been the permanent member, continuing to work as the Orb with the Swiss-German producer Thomas Fehlmann and, later, with Martin Youth Glover. Beyond recognition on their albums and concerts, his use of other artists works has led to disputes with musicians. During their live shows of the 1990s, the Orb performed using digital tape machines optimised for live mixing and sampling before switching to laptops. Despite changes in method, the Orb maintained their colourful light shows. These visually intense performances prompted critics to compare the group to Pink Floyd, Alex Paterson began his music career in the early 1980s as a roadie for the post-punk rock band Killing Joke, for whom his childhood friend Martin Youth Glover plays bass. The following year, the Orb released the Kiss EP, a four-track EP based on samples from New York Citys KISS FM and it was released on Paterson and Glovers new record label WAU. Mr. Modo Records, which created out of a desire to maintain financial independence from larger record labels. Paterson and Cauty began DJ-ing in London and landed a deal for the Orb to play the chill out room at London nightclub Heaven, resident DJ Paul Oakenfold brought in the duo as ambient DJs for his The Land of Oz event at Heaven. The Orbs performances became most popular among weary DJs and clubbers seeking solace from the loud, the Orb built up melodies using multitrack recordings linked to multiple record decks and a mixer. The group incorporated many CDs, cassettes, and BBC sound effects into the act, though the group used a variety of samples, they avoided heavy rhythm and drums so that the intended ambient atmosphere was not disrupted. Most often, the group played dub and other chill-out music, throughout 1989 the Orb, along with Martin Glover, developed a music production style that incorporated ambient music with a diverse array of samples and recordings. The British music press later labelled the music ambient house, the culmination of the groups musical work came toward the end of the same year when they recorded a session for John Peel on BBC Radio 1. The track, then known as Loving You, was largely improvisational and featured a wealth of effects and samples from science fiction radio plays, nature sounds. For its release as a single on the record label Big Life, despite its running time of 22 minutes, the sample-laden single reached #78 on the British singles charts. Soon thereafter, the Orb were commissioned by Dave Stewart to remix his top-20 single Lily Was Here, the group obliged and were soon offered several more remix jobs from artists including Erasure and System 7
Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann of the Orb at Culture Box in Copenhagen in 2005.
Paterson's record label Badorb.com had only fourteen releases in its brief existence.