Alex Paterson prides the Orb on manipulating obscure samples beyond recognition on its albums and during its concerts; his unauthorised use of other artists' works has led to disputes with musicians, most notably with Rickie Lee Jones. During its live shows of the 1990s, the Orb performed using digital audio tape machines optimised for live mixing and sampling before switching to laptops and digital media. Despite changes in performance method, the Orb maintained its colourful light shows and psychedelic imagery in concert. These visually intensive performances prompted critics to compare the group to Pink Floyd.
The Orb's critical and commercial success in the United Kingdom peaked in the early 1990s with the albums The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld and U.F.Orb, the latter of which reached #1 on the British album charts in 1992. This success led to its infamous appearance on Top of the Pops, where the group showcased its quirky style by playing chess (an interest of Paterson's since his early youth) while the group's single "Blue Room" ran in the background. The Orb's mid-1990s albums were met with mixed reactions from British critics; however, its work received praise from American publications such as Rolling Stone. The group experimented with vocalists on its next two albums, which critics generally described as bland and uninspired. The Orb then shifted gears to a minimal techno style spearheaded by member Thomas Fehlmann, releasing its new material on the record label Kompakt.
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