Album Review: ORBS – Past Life Regression

After six years of writing, recording, and mastering, “space rock” group ORBS has released their new album, a follow-up to the 2010 release, Asleep Next To Science. During those six years, the band self-funded the entire recording process, allowing them not only time to finesse their sound, but to work with whomever they wanted. The sophomore album, entitled Past Life Regression, was released on July 15, 2016.

The album cover.

The first track, Death Is Imminent (However, Relative), is seven minutes long, and begins with a suspended cymbal roll before going into a song that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of space rock. Although it has clear roots in rock, the slightly eerie, psychedelic instrumentals give it a unique sound. The lead singer, Adam Fisher, has the classic raw vocals seen in both classic and modern rock songs, and seems to have a pretty impressive range. The other instrumentals, from electric guitar to the more electronically engineered sounds, show a high amount of skill. The first track ends with slow ticking, and leads into the next song. The second track, Dreamland II, begins with more synth-y instrumentals, but about a minute into the song, the electric guitar and bass join in. The lyrics to this track are a bit darker, informing listeners that, “I sleep with the lights on, fully clothed with a knife by my side”. Although creepy and a bit twisted, the lyrics (and song) are based off of the X-Files episode with the same title in which two lovers are fused together. The song is a fascinating look on the inner meaning of the concept.

The fourth track, Peculiar, Isn’t It, begins both slower and softer than the previous tracks. One of the first lyrics insists that, “it’s apparent my parents wanted a girl, but instead they got a girlish boy”. The other lyrics seem to allude towards the idea that the subject of the song either struggles with gender identity or is affected by Klinefelter syndrome, a condition in which an extra chromosome results in a male being born with somewhat strange side effects.

Giving Tree Hanging Me, the seventh track, features mainly piano, and somewhat melancholy lyrics. Adam Fisher stated in an interview that he “wanted to convey the guilt we carry when we affect someone with our selfish actions”. The song tells the story of a character affected by such guilt, and his journey in trying (and failing) to move on from that. While initially the song just seems morose and strange, the complexity of the story makes it more relatable in the way that truly good rock songs can.

The last track, El Burro, uses a lot of metaphors, and discusses the topic of reincarnation with many of these. The song becomes pretty intense near the middle, and it’s pretty clear that both the lyrics and the instrumentals hold a lot of emotion. The song ends with the singer screaming the word “repeat” over and over before singing several times “and I begin again”. The instrumentals fade out, and an acoustic guitar plays a few notes before the song ends.

The three current members of ORBS

The genre of space rock is said to have been influenced by artists like David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Radiohead. While the influences that ORBS draws from are clear, the group still has an incredibly unique, finessed sound; and with an album like this, it’s no wonder the group took six years making it perfect.

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