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
© Richard Foss /TiVo
7 albums sorted by Most acclaimed
Narrow my search
Electronic - Released April 1, 2009 | INAKUSTIK
This album has become a valuable rarity primarily because of a case of mistaken identity. Rumor spread among fans of the Detroit techno/dance band Cybotron that an early or bootleg album was available, and rare record shops and websites sold out of whatever copies they had on hand of Colossus. One can only imagine the feelings of the people who bought this album and then discovered that they had purchased a record made in 1979 by an obscure Australian band of the same name. If the buyers were at all adventurous, they may have felt that they got a good deal for their money. The Australian trio had a powerful sound that was slightly reminiscent of high-quality Krautrock or middle-period King Crimson. Colossus consists of just four tracks, all based on complex synthesizer interplay over jazzy drumming, sometimes accented by Steve Braund's frantic saxophone playing. Pulsating rhythms are laid down with the drums, sequencers, and a synthesizer playing heavy basslines, while saxes and keyboards power out dueling melodies. The album was expertly produced and engineered, with some sound techniques that are best appreciated while wearing headphones. It's unfortunate that this band didn't get more widespread distribution, as Colossus has a very accessible sound that might have won the band fans if it was ever widely distributed. None of the Australian Cybotron's three albums were ever released in the U.S.A. or Europe, and if not for the accident of the Detroit band's fans seeking these albums by mistake, they would have probably been relegated to complete obscurity. © Richard Foss /TiVo