Anna Minard, our former city hall reporter, claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to all the records that music nerds consider important.

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THE ORB

The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

(Big Life)

The Orb comprises layers and layers of sounds, caked on one another to make a mood. Like lots of electronic music, it contains disembodied voices, repetitive rhythms and tones, and sounds like it's supposed to make you feel something. (It makes me feel dread and anxiety, which is probably not the intended effect, but oh well.)

But the grandness of the sound means it paints a picture for your brain; it sounds like a world or a story happening in real time. I'll tell you about the story in a second, but first, an important thing to listen for: It's really entertaining how much "Perpetual Dawn" sounds like "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base, only with the few vocals being underwater gibberish.

Anyway: "The Orb" is a really good name for this artist, because this all sounds like a very passable soundtrack from a Star Trek movie, in which they visit Dance Planet...

In the disco halls and dance fields of Dance Planet, people are happy and sweaty and in a sexy reverie—but there is an evil force at work. Up in the sky above Dance Planet, a mirrored sphere hangs: a giant disco ball spaceship*. It's the Orb, and its alien inhabitants are radiating intoxicating rhythmic music down on the planet, causing people to dance, dance, dance. They dance without normal care for hydration or rest, though they break occasionally. People treat dancing like their job, and food magically appears. They eat and drink, and then keep dancing until they're barely undulating flesh sacks, living only into their late 20s or early 30s, and then expiring. The aliens up in the Orb farm the human energy and need people to be moving a lot to get enough of it to be worth it. Like a parasite, they drain the planet and then move on to the next, but it takes generations to fully do that.

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But the starship Enterprise has just arrived on Dance Planet, and they're on the case! The dilemma: Should the Enterprise crew interfere, when clearly everyone is having a pretty good, if short, time? "Dance is our way of life," say the leaders of Dance Planet, wiggling their arms like '90s rave kids. "Leave Dance Planet in peace," they intone while thrusting their hips at Commander Riker, who is obviously totally into it. I give this a "tune in next week" out of 10.

* Intellectual property of my friend Walker, to whom I explained my Dance Planet theory and who invented the disco-ball spaceship. recommended