There's always been a hokey streak to The Orb that doubles as a kind of wry self-awareness in the right conditions, even at the most phantasmagorical extremes. Or has there? A little mystery of the sort is desirable, even necessary, but The Dream has a habit of dashing the murky, dreamy Orb world in ways that aren't ideal. Angled as a "return to form" by a group whose principal soundsmith is nearing 50, the album traipses through a capable post-rave haze with lots of dubby hesitations and methodical beats. But many of the samples are perplexing or just plain bad: A quotidian phone call in "A Beautiful Day" sounds like a failed attempt at humor a la The Office, and then comes "DDD (Dirty Disco Dub)" with a diva-articulated take on the Hare Krishna chant. It's not a good idea, to say the least.

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