Iconic electronic music pioneers The Orb return to Kompakt with Moonbuilding 2703 AD, another major slice of psychedelic synth bliss, obscure loops, and deep ambient textures tossed in swinging breakbeats and powerful basslines. Installing a forward momentum rather unusual for a genre-defying project like this, the latest effort from masterminds Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann follows their 2005 album success on Kompakt, the cheekily named Okie Dokie It’s The Orb On Kompakt (KOMP 045CD/KOM 128LP) — as well as several contributions to Kompakt’s Speicher and Pop Ambient series — but, more importantly, it finds the legendary duo at the peak of its creativity, ringing in another essential phase in what can only be called a groundbreaking career. True to form, Moonbuilding 2703 AD features a small track list, but turns each one of its four cuts into a mini-epic in its own right. Opener “God’s Mirrorball” hits the ground floating, employing a handful of cozy statics to great effect before finally discharging into an intricate mosaic of atmospheric, melodic sketches and gripping rhythms. With a hypnotic runtime of more than 14 minutes, it immediately establishes a blueprint for the other album tracks to follow, perfectly illustrating the vast extent of the artists’ vision and their impressive skills in luring in listeners — welcome to The Orb’s sonic labyrinth, where nothing is what it seems and the unexpected waits just around the corner. Likewise, follow-up track “Moonscapes 2703 BC” presents itself as a uniquely versatile affair sitting comfortably between ambient flourishes and beat-driven focus, holding as many twists and turns as a caper movie, but carefully grounding every single one of its cliffhangers in its impeccable flow. With a runtime of approximately nine minutes, “Lunar Caves” is the shortest jam of the bunch — and also the most ethereal, keeping its rhythmic content to a bare, pulse-like minimum and opting for enticing, freewheeling synth textures instead. Album closer and title cut “Moonbuilding 2703 AD” introduces a surprisingly jazzy vibe mingling rather well with the wealth of electronic tricks up its sleeve — even indulging in abrasive bass sweeps and a breathtaking multitude of different rhythm sections constantly switching places. It’s a fitting closing act for a full-length as multifaceted as this, as idiosyncratic as possible and as muscular as needed. Cover design by iconic graphic wizards The Designers Republic.