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Sometimes Australia seems a lot farther away from Europe and America than it actually is. Never mind that we're talking the other side off the globe -- for some people it's another planet, one from which news travels considerably slower than the speed of light. This is the best explanation for why the excellent Australian band Cybotron could be so obscure that even after it had been in existence for years, another band in Detroit could adopt the same name without knowing that it had been in use. Cybotron was formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1976 by Steve Braund, who had previously released Monster Planet, the first album of electronic music released down under. Braund, who sometimes listed his name as Von Braund on album notes, teamed with fellow synthesizer player Geoff Green to release the eponymous first Cybotron album, which had an obvious debt to European outfits such as Tangerine Dream and Can. Saturday Night, a live album, followed the same year. At least two cassette-only releases followed, as the band became a major concert draw in the admittedly small Australian experimental rock market. The band hit a peak with Colossus, which benefited from the presence of drummer and synth player Colin Butcher. This album sold better in Europe and the U.S.A. as an import than it did in Australia, and for a few milliseconds it looked like the band might break internationally. Unfortunately, shortly after Colossus was released, Braund decided he didn't want to tour any more, and the band split into a "performing" Cybotron led by Green and a recording project led by Braund. To add to the confusion, the "performing" group rapidly developed new material, a huge theatrical show which included dancers, and a different sound which included synthesized voices played by Ian Mac Farlane and the oboe of new drummer Greg Farigndon. The last full-length Cybotron release which featured Green and Braund was Implosion, released in 1980 on the Clear Light of Jupiter label. One cut from this album, "Eureka," actually managed some airplay on college radio stations in the U.S., but it is generally regarded as inferior to Colossus. The "performing" Cybotron released a cassette in 1981, but both versions of the band were pretty much dead by 1983, when the identically named techno band from Detroit released their first album, causing vast confusion among record collectors.
© Richard Foss /TiVo
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