As a former roadie with English post-punk outfit Killing Joke, Alex Paterson may not be the person most likely to spearhead the ambient movement of the late eighties and early-nineties, but it is a role in which Paterson has excelled.

Since The Orb’s formation in 1988, Paterson has been the only constant member and various line-up changes have seen collaborations with Dave Stewart, Steve Hillage and, perhaps most notably, David Gilmour.

The Orb have recently released 'The Orbserver in the Star House', a collaboration with reggae and dub legend Lee Scratch Perry. This is the first Orb album to feature vocals on all tracks, and Paterson describes working with Perry as his “ego.”

This candid and occasionally terse exchange between Paterson and Pennyblackmusic sheds light on the personality behind the music.

PB: What was the last album you listened to? Was it any good?

AP: 'Cecilia' by Teebs - it was excellent.

PB: Your new album, 'The Orbserver in the Star House', is out and features contributions from Lee Perry. What can listeners expect to hear? Have you moved towards a more dub sound?

AP: Well, dub is meant as a non vocal album of reggae music. So, in answer to your question, no, we haven't.

Lee "Scratch" Perry sings on all the tunes on this album, and you might have noticed that it's the first Orb album with vocals on every track. There is also a bass player on the new album.

Listeners these days expect to get music for free. The ones that actually might buy it can have an opinion, and the ones that free load can rot in hell and work for Santa forever more.

PB: I've enjoyed your music since the very beginning. My favourite track is still 'Little Fluffy Clouds'. What can you tell me about the origins of the track?

AP: Try 'Little Fluffy Clouds' - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

PB: And, while we're on 'Little Fluffy Clouds', 'The Orbserver in the Star House' includes a re-working of the track entitled 'Golden Clouds'. What made you go back to the track and what do you feel this redux has added to it?

AP: The comment at the front end ("What were the skies like when you were young?") and the Steve Reich guitar piece are the only things from 'Little Fluffy Clouds'. It's not a bloody cover version. Listen to it with both ears please.

PB: The 2010 album 'Metallic Spheres' was recorded in 360 surround sound. I loved the experience, and I was especially impressed that no extra hardware was needed to get the full effect. Do you have any plans to record further material in this format?

AP: No. RIP Mike Brady. A real gentleman.

PB: When 'The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld' came out in 1991, it was a refreshing change from the heavier, more rave-oriented techno of the day. What made you embrace a more ambient sound?

AP: My roots (25 year old question again), ambient sounds, dub rhythm and folk moments with film samples to boot.

PB: The Orb pioneered the ambient techno sound. In recent years, a more minimalist style has become very popular. What do you think of the Drone sound?

AP: Never heard of it and it sounds like hornets to me. Thomas (Fehlmann, the Orb's other current member) might have.

PB: 'Metallic Sphere' was a collaboration with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. I've always thought of the Orb's music as being thematically very similar to early Floyd (especially tracks like 'Saucerful of Secrets' or 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene'). What can you tell me about working with David? How much do you feel that Pink Floyd have influenced your work over the years?

AP: Nothing, nothing, nothing and I never set out to be Pink fucking Floyd of the 1990s. Only the press had to label us that, and I never saw Gilmour in the studio. Why should I? Unless I was a very naughty boy.

I am an ex-Killing Joke roadie and from the original punk generation. So why would I try to like Pink Floyd now?

Nick Mason and Rick Wright asked to jam with us back in 1993 in Brixton. I said no. Mason wrote about it in his book.

'Echoes' by Pink Floyd is all right. When I first went to Chicago in 1989, the first thing I heard was Pink Floyd in a car going down Clark North ... near the metro ....

Fucked me up! I was meant to be in the home of house music and was going to meet Larry Heard...fingers inc/the it.

PB: The Orb have always, rightly or wrongly, been identified with drug culture, for example the early nineties acid revival. Was this something that you actively sought and encouraged, or did it simply come about by accident?

AP: Next.

PB: You have reached a stage in your career where your albums draw comparisons from your back-catalogue as much as from your peers. Do you find that you are now making music for yourself as much as for your fans?

AP: If I hated the music we were writing, I'll be in the wrong job.

PB: You've collaborated with the likes of Robbie Williams, Trent Reznor and David Gilmour. Are there any other artists that you aspire to work with?

AP: The above list is not aspiring to work with. Robbie Williams was a remix as was Nine Inch Nails. Dave Gilmour was youth's ego. We are going to rework Miles Davis next as he is Thomas's favourite artist.

PB: The remix has become an art form in itself. Are there any records that you would particularly enjoy working on?

AP: Millions and millions of them. 'I'm a Pink Tooth Brush' by Max Bygraves for one. 'Our House' by Madness is another. 'Colombia Colly' by Jah Lion - and also 'Last Night a DJ Saved My Life' by In Deep.

PB: Music has gone through many distinct phases, with each new genre being brought about (it seems to me) by technological advances. The music of the Orb actively embraces new technology and is very much at the vanguard of modern music. What direction do you foresee your music, and music in general, taking in the future?

AP: Nowhere fast. It's all down hill with this divide and conquer attitude( with the gang of four) since 'Top of the Pops. Ponces are killing music along with the freebie generation .... good luck with TV shows showing us the way to go musically too ... total shite ...

Welcome to the 21st century.

PB: Thank you.

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