Borrowing from a wide range of sources, including psychedelia, progressive rock, German techno, disco, and reggae dub music, the Orb are generally acknowledged as originators of the ambient dance genre. Despite copyright litigation over their heavy use of samples—most notably, Minnie Riperton’s "Loving You" and Rickie Lee Jones’ voice in "Fluffy Little Clouds"—they were one of the most in-demand producers/remixers of the 1990s.

The Orb—a name derived from Woody Allen’s sci-fi film, Sleepers—was formed in South London, 1989, by synth/keyboardist Alex Paterson, then handling A&R duties for EG Records, and KLF’s Jimmy Cauty. Utilizing samples from the New York radio station, Kiss FM, the duo released a twelve-inch EP, Kiss, on the British WAU! Mr. Modo label (#0107; 1989). Catering primarily to ambient dance clubs, they next issued the pioneering twelve-inch EP, A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From the Centre of the Ultraworld: Lovin’ You (WAU! Mr. Moto 0177; 1989)—blending trance-like rhythms and spacey dub effects—and the ethereal single, "Fluffy Little Clouds" (Big Life 33; 1990).

Prior to the release of Orb’s epic set, Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (Big Life 5; #29 UK; issued 11/91 on Mercury 511034 in U.S.), in April 1991, Cauty was replaced ex-Gong guitarist Steve Hillage, Miquette Giraudy, and Andy Falconer. Combining older singles and new material, the double album almost single-handedly created a vogue for ambient club nights that nurtured artists such as Aphex Twin and Mixmaster Morris.

Collaborating with wide array of artists, Paterson—while strictly an underground phenomenon stateside—became a hot commercial property in England. Continuing to explore the stretched-out beats of ambient dance, his best-selling releases have included the twelve-inch EP, "The Blue Room" (Big Life 75; 1992; #8), U.F. Orb (Big Life 18/Mercury 513749; 1992; #1 UK), Live 93 (Island 8022/Mercury 535004; 1993; #23 UK), the harder-edged Pommefritz (Island ORB 1/Mercury 535007; 1994; #6 UK), Orbus Terrarum (Island8037/Mercury 524099; 1995; #20 UK), Oblivion (Island 8055/Mercury 524347; 1997; #19 UK), and U.F.Off – The Best Of (Island 8078; 1998; #38).

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