Monday, 8 June 2009

The Club of Assassins

I have always found The Orb's music deeply evocative.
Their tumbling stop-start beats perfectly capture the wind-blown effects of sound heard outdoors, evoking the proximity to a festival stage or the approach to a rave.

Being representative of the prog faction within the dance scene, The Orb continually referenced their muse; whether it be Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, the Koran or Minnie Ripperton [!], their sound was purposely post-modern, evocatively borrowing and stealing from whatever and wherever; creating waves of aural gratification to the often horizontal listener.

'Assassin' was an apt title for what I think is their best single release; for assassin is itself a terribly evocative word, and one relevant to The Orb and their audience's world.

The derivation of the word is best described by the French poet Theophile Gautier in his Club of Assassins, written in 1846:

There formerly existed in the East a redoubtable order of religious fanatics commanded by a sheik who took the title of the Old Man of the Mountain or the Prince of Assassins.

The Old Man of the Mountain was obeyed unquestionably: his subjects, the Assassins, proceeded with absolute devotion to the execution of his orders, no matter what they were; no danger would deter them, not even certain death. At a sign from their chief, they would leap from the top of a tower, they would stab a ruler in his own palace, surrounded by his bodyguards.

By what devices did the Old Man of the Mountain elicit such complete self-abnegation?

The answer: by means of an extraordinary drug of which he held the recipe and which possessed the property of bestowing marvellous hallucinations.

Those who had partaken of it found real life so sad and colourless by comparison with their intoxication that they would joyfully sacrifice their lives to return to their dream-paradise.

On dosing the fanatics, the Old Man of the Mountain led them to believe that it was within his power to bestow on them the paradise of Mahomet and the houris of the three ranks.

The drug was hashish,* from which is derived hashishin, the eater of hashish, the origin of the word assassin, the ferocious signification of which is amply explained by the sanguinary habits of the henchmen of the Old Man of the Mountain.

*hashish is an extract of flowers of hemp, cooked with butter, pistachio nuts, almonds and honey, forming a kind of jam very similar to apricot conserve and with a taste which is by no means unpleasant.

The mp3 format is more appropriate to this product - originally released as two discs, forcing a break in mood - allowing for a continuous listening experience.
And despite the fact the track is repeated - there are four versions of 'Assassin' here - Paterson knew how to deter boredom; so as a whole (fifty-five minutes in total) the recording retains interest: working like a symphony, continually improvising and expanding upon its own theme.

The Orb - Assassin (1992)

Assassin - Oasis of Rhythms Mix
U.F. Orb - Bandulu Remix
Assassin - Radio 7
Assassin - Another Live Version
Assassin - Chocolate Hills of Bohol

CD rip to mp3s
Taste the mix here


Chris said...

Fantastic band.....if you havnt heard the last LP....The Dream,check it out,definately there best LP in a long time,watched them up in Mmanchester last year,first time ive seen them since about 1993,or there abouts,loved every minute of it !

Anonymous said...

Great, great, great. Thanks for this.

icastico said...

Great stuff...thanks. One of my favorites from this scene for sure.

Orb fans may like this...perhaps.

sweetbeats said...

One of my favourite Orb singles I have this CD and it's a belter!