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Cybotron - Colossus CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.29 | 32 ratings

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3 stars Australia's Cybotron are an instrumental synthesizer heavy band, who played spacey and repetitive electronica-tinged prog, with an interesting combination of live acoustic and programmed percussion. Taking many elements from German acts like Ashra, Eloy and Tangerine Dream, without ever blatantly ripping them off, the Melbourne band's 1978 album `Colossus' displays plenty of infectious energy, enthusiasm and is packed with top playing and great arrangements.

Considering they're from my home town, it's surprising that I ignored this album for many years! The simple reason is my vinyl LP cover is torn and in terrible condition, so it was kind of off-putting and not pleasant to look at! Fortunately the LP itself is in good condition! But I'll be reviewing the compact disc version, which has a very controversial history that I'll explain later.

After a very spacey and programmed intro with a great build, the title track `Colossus' features a highly unusual treated saxophone blowing away, floating between synths and rattling percussion. Keyboard solos swirl around, stomping drums pounds away - drummer Colin Butcher is relentless on this track! Electronic effects punch through, before a very symphonic finale. It's got quite an upbeat tempo! What a way to start the album! Much of it wouldn't have sounded out of place on a 70's Eloy album.

The ten minute epic `Eclipse' has almost three minutes of killer synth solos and more top drum work - total overkill, yet everything a prog fan could wish for! Very epic and grand, before a nice transition into a floaty middle with phasing effects and a near total fade out. By this point, we're lost in a liquid word of electronic ambience, before a sudden rush back into more synthwork and heavy drums. It's very disorientating and repetitive, creating a very dizzy and overwhelming sensation. Listen to all the maddening keys cut in and out, twirling around, phasing into oblivion, the militaristic percussion leaving you exhausted. An amazing piece, lots of drama and mood here, and killer playing by the band.

Tangerine Dream fans will love `Medusa', a darkly ambient and programmed spacey synthscape. After an ethereal and majestic opening, it develops into a hypnotic, eerie, and trance-like piece. There's driving, almost tribal percussive beats that gradually build in tension throughout the heavily sequenced piece, and it's full of rapturous synth solos. What sounds like a flute near the end creates a very meditative tone. Worth grabbing the album for this one alone.

Processed sax, thick synth stabs, and furious drumming storm through `Raga In Asia Minor'! It's certainly more upbeat than the previous piece, with some faster rocking sections and slower atmospheric moments. It's also extremely repetitious, but sure to get your head nodding in approval or foot tapping along. Very catchy and easy to listen to!

Be aware, the album is available on CD, along with a download version, but bafflingly both contain only a 6 minute version of the final track, with about ten minutes cut out of the original! I have absolutely no idea what the thinking was behind this. Instead, they included a shorter remix of the title track (mostly pointless) and a bonus track `Ride' which is an another short but effective Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze-like sequenced piece - decent but nothing that hasn't already been done perfectly well already on the original album. As mentioned above, I do have an original vinyl copy, and within a few weeks I'll have access to a vinyl/USB convertor, so I plan on transferring the album across to MP3 so I can properly listen to and review the full length `Raga In Asia Minor'. I'll then update this review accordingly.

A short and sweet album, there's really not a bad moment on it, certainly no filler tracks. Perhaps there's not a lot subtlety or depth, but the album sounds amazing on a superficial level. Endless thick keyboards, varied drumming/percussion, inventive programming and effective sax. Some would likely complain that many of the tracks are a little repetitive, but that's missing the point! The album artwork, though a little amateur, is kind of deceptively cool, with the vinyl version revealing a lot mode hidden interesting details than on first glace.

In the end, `Colossus' is probably not a hugely important progressive album in the big scheme of things, but the players in Cybotron can be proud in the fact that they put out several high quality albums, with frequent moments of true originality and real greatness.

Three and a half stars really!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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