Belfast and the Other one

It’s been a while. I’ve been on holiday . Back now. Not much to say about recent events, I’ve managed to take August off. Only managed it once before in the last 25 years. Played Solfest. that was great fun, loved it. Little gig , massive PA , great crowd.

Two more gigs to go for the time being , them I’m busy with some different work.

So I’m going retro on this blog . Along side my video diary’s that I’ve been going through I wanted to listen to all my old 4 track recordings and unreleased dat material. Start sharing that too. I’ve just got my 4 track fixed so while I was setting up some gear in the studio for the next run of work , I’ve been going through some of the old tapes. One thing I was pleased to find was the original version of Belfast. I thought it was lost forever.

I’ve been trying to remember exactly when I recorded it. It comes from the era between my first ever release on the house sound of London under the name ‘ds building contractors’ and buying our first orbital D.A.T. after getting a proper record deal with Pete Tong at FFRR. I know it was recorded after chime because the track on the tape before it is a more typical house track that has elements of chime and Belfast in it. I”ve given that one to you too incase you want to listen to the one’s that never made it as well as the origins of the ones that did. Anyway I’ve always thought of them as a pair.

I think it was probably winter 89-90 and in the months between Jazzy M putting out chime on Oh-Zone and its release on FFRR. Because it was influenced by the wave of ambient house spearheaded by the Orb and their A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld (EP).that came out early 90 I belive. It must have been then as chime was out and the orbital name was already launched because the simple truth  is I wouldn’t have called Orbital Orbital if id seen the Orb first, that would have been mad right? Far too confusing having orbital , orbit and the orb around at the same time. Funnily enough someone asked me if Id written Little fluffy clouds , just the other day at Solfest. That’s been happening for 25 years. I wonder if Alex Paterson gets asked if he wrote chime?

Anyway so there I was just finished an early shift at Pizza Piazza in Sevenoaks.  I decided to make an ambient song , it was a rainy melancholy mid-week kind of afternoon. I got the chords first and just went from there. Got it all in place as a drumless ambient piece, but I just couldn’t resist the call of the 909 drum machine. So in went the drums. Much better! So what you hear here is the Jam I did on a rainy afternoon, after work and before catching up with my friends for the evening. At the time I remember thinking, it was ok but I wasn’t over impressed. This was all recorded in my parents living room in the stairs alcove studio, that all the early stuff was written in, up to and including the first green album. the other one would have been recorded around the same time , probably a day or so before.

So Months latter after the success of chime in march 90 , I got a call from David Holmes, DJ , club runner and hair dresser from Belfast . Would orbital like to play at the art college in Belfast? Yes! So after the gig, in Davids Mum’s house’s spare bedroom David asked if we had any demo’s. I gave him a tape with both tracks on. Two week later David rings up and tells me that him and his friends all love the second track on the tape . We called it Belfast after the brilliant time we had there. So the track was named after, and dedicated to, David and all his friends.

Where is the vocal?

Well, when we were making the orbital ep III , we decided to put a version of Belfast on it , while I was re-recording it with all the lovely new gear we had bought from the record deal Phil was making at birthing tape for the imminent arrival of his second child. So he was at my Dad’s hi fi with the head phones on , while I was at the computer and sampler playing through the track . He popped the head phones off and said listen to this, it sound brilliant. So he turned the speakers up and hey presto! Hildegard of Bingen ‘o euchari’ burst through,in tune, in time, Job done!

I met up with David this May , he’d just won the Ivor Novello for best film score for 71. We were in the pub afterwards and he spoke about our trip to Belfast and the tape and how much it all meant to him and his mates at the time. I asked him if he still had it , as I thought it was the only one and had been quite curious to hear the other track. But alas , he said he had no idea where it went. So imagine how pleased I was when i discovered the original recording on Wednesday as I was setting up and listening to the old tapes and realised I’d only give him a copy , not the original after all. Here it is, all those years later. the Original Belfast and the other one.

27 thoughts on “Belfast and the Other one

  1. Mark Charlesworth

    Great reading as ever, and nice to hear a bit of Orbital-in-progress with ‘The Other One’ (catchy name). Hope you can keep on with these blogs – retro and current – while you’re working on your other stuff. Cheers


  2. Ian Dickinson

    And to think that track germinated in the Harry Potter studio made it all the way to the Albert Hall 🙂
    Great to hear where the name came from and I’ve always wondered why your tracks generally have one or two word titles.. Any reason for that?


  3. Idego Del Tuna

    Love the potted history. Phil told me about the headphones thing about ten years ago, but the rich detail is superb. As are the tracks of course. To think it was all 4-t, we’ve come a long way since… 😉


  4. Ciaran Bb

    Love this. Is there a old tape of Death Row (i think that’s the name if it) lying about? I remember reading about it once(long time ago now) and I believe Steve from Loopz had said he had the pleasure of hearing it a gig or set by you/Orbital?love the blogs.


  5. michaeloglesby

    This is a fantastic post, thanks Paul! Great to read the history behind such iconic Orbital tracks, can’t wait for the Halcyon & On & On history.

    I’ve always wonder where Orbital got inspiration for the vocals on Belfast. I always thought you got the idea from The Beloved – Sun Rising track as they use the same sample.

    Paul, I have a question: What computer was you using back in the day? For example, on you time lapse video doing the remix, it looks like an Atari ST.


  6. ad3r0wb0tham

    David Holmes – now there’s a blast from the past. You seem to have a very good memory given how long ago that was.

    Interesting insights as ever. The Orb were amazing back in those days. They went off the boil after the (underrated) Pomme Fritz in my opinion.


  7. Jeff

    Belfast is an eternal favorite of mine. I first heard it in Goa in 1991, tacked on to one of those unnamed mix tapes. Brought it all over Asia and renamed it “Electric Sunrise” as that was the feel I got from it. All was great until a wave came and nearly washed my precious cassette (and walkman) away in Japan. I painstakingly took apart the tape, cleaned and rewound it. Somehow it worked. Made a fresh transfer to prevent further damage.

    Took me five more years to finally find out the real title, heard it at a party on Mt. Fuji. I ran to the booth and demanded to know the name. Bought the CD the next day if I recall.

    To this day there is no song which more perfectly captures the sun rising over the Pacific on an empty beach in Japan and although I have DJed all over this country the only time I have ever played Belfast was on the beach as the sun was about to, or has just risen.

    Thank you for making one of the greatest ambient tracks of all time.


  8. Luke O'S

    “…Far too confusing having orbital , orbit and the orb around at the same time”

    There was also a record label called Orbital at around the same time. How do I know…. because i saw a CD “Orbital” which i hadn’t spotted before and bought it , looking forward to the latest Hartnoll craziness. I was then quite disappointed when it wasn’t you at all.
    I think it was this (it was along time ag.. i think this one for the label and this for the rogue CD i bought )


  9. Eric K

    Confusing had it’s advantages in those days, Paul – I picked up the FFrr Chime week of release on spec in Newcastle Grainger Market because I thought it might have something to do with Alex P or William Orbit… One of the best accidental purchases ever…


  10. Pingback: Belfast original jam | ACID TED

  11. Steve C

    Speaking of Belfast.
    The Empire was an absolute stunner of a gig Paul.
    I loved every note of it…….the new stuff sounds fantastic and the re-built Orbital tracks sound fresh as daisies.
    I miss the M5N though………but I imagine it would rather put the mockers on that whole “man in a flightcase” rig you have going on at the minute 😉
    It was weird hearing all of those parts fully in tune and using a predictable voice LOL.
    I feel I must apologise for the turnout……considering the two of you had the Ulster Hall rammed 3 years ago, it’s hard to reconcile.
    It was nice in an odd way, like going to see “serious” music at an arts festival. PA was just nice, though I think the very bottom end of the Virus was lost on it a little. Not quite the monstrous spleen creaming sound from the Ulster Hall, but just right for the gig.

    One of my padawans was with me……a young guitarist in a prog rock band……….pretty sure you blew the bugger’s mind LOL.

    While I’m at it………..I owe you a debt of thanks for involuntarily putting me on to the Novation SL controller series……..I figured if you and Phil could rely on them, they must actually work a bit……….and I’m having a ball with my Zero-SL MkII.
    Speaking of which………geek question…….is it possible with automap, or manual fiddling, to configure the controls so that (for example), knob 1 controls the cutoff on VSTi-A, and knob 2 controls another parameter on VSTi-B…….essentially mapping all the controls important for a particular tune to a single page on the controller.

    LOL…………I bet David Bowie and the like don’t get questions like that from fans 😉

    Anyway……keep up the good work, get a live DVD or online video sorted, and I look forward to your next visit to Belfast 😉

    PS: Saw the Orb 7 days before you………they made a lovely noise, but essentially, stank……I was quite heartbroken.


  12. Pingback: Tracks of my year: September | ACID TED

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