Turning back the Braw Blog clock 5 years (which in itself was turned back 16 to 18 years at that time) saw Rob tackle the thorny issue of Cydonia by The Orb, their somewhat troubled final album for Island Records – it took 18 months or so to complete and on arrival was deemed “a stillborn relic” by NME. The general consensus over time is that the original 1999 double album CDr promo version – The Orb’s Holy Grail of sorts, perhaps a complete soundboard recording of the pre-FFWD track Hidden In Heaven aside - was far superior to the much chopped, changed, rerecorded and truncated solitary CD effort that limped into a completely indifferent musical landscape in 2001….
The Orb - It's A Small World
Arriving at the here and now however, and encouraged by a posting on The Orb Music & Remixes Facebook group Rob’s returned to his 2017 reconstruction, christening this long-gestating 2023 makeover as the (ultimate) Cydonia Redux. This all began by first considering swapping out Disc 2's Yungle for (Rob’s whooshy favourite) It’s A Small World from Orbsessions Volume Two, before things quickly fell into place with the removal of the two "songs" (to an imaginary Disc 3), the repositioning of the rescued Hamlet of Kings to Disc 1 and adding the one-two old school heavyweight punch of a reinstated Yungle and (kinda) rediscovered It’s A Small World to Disc 2. Last but not least, each ‘Disc’ has also been given a title that relates to an area of the Cydonia Region of Mars, thus completing the super cycle....
The Orb - An Extra Mile Long Lump of Lard
Of course, all this is playing fast and loose with the exact late 90s timelines – likely only the Good Doctor himself knows what record a track like It’s A Small World was originally destined for – and really only takes the random Orbsessions collections as a rough starting point…. but helps in a ‘three birds with one stone’ way, being the cream of that crop too (as the rest fall under that much of a muchness bouncy (barely) techno that seemed to typify The Orb’s output until the mid 00s, y’know, samey short form tracks mostly devoid of depth and samples and thereby any sort of identifiably Orb-ish ‘layering sounds on top of each other’ personality - yep, yet again for all his talents poor Thomas Fehlmann just can't seem to catch a Braw break towards his beatiful contributions when it comes to Rob's take on taking on The Orb!*). But whatever, this is now Rob’s Cydonia Version of choice and has been capably getting him through the past few months on a near-daily rotation (er, until such a time as some whopping Live 93 Brixton Academy bootlegs - Plateau! Valley! Assassin! - knocked him for another six.... prior to Prism landing)….
Disc 1 – Mensae Side
1 – Terminus - Andy's Mix from the Cydonia Bonus Disc.
2 - Hamlet Of Kings – an ambient bonus from the original Cydonia best placed here before we get to the album proper.)
3 - Jam On Yer Honey - from Orbsessions Volume Two (where it's called Jam On Your Honey).
4 - Ralf - from Orbsessions Volume Two (where it's called Ralph's Cupboard).
5 - Promis - Version from the Cydonia Bonus Disc, clocking in at a slightly longer 5:47 (and very close to the 5:45 of the promo CD-R's).
6 - Bicycles & Tricycles - from Orbsessions Volume Two (where it's called 2026).
Disc 2 – Colles side
1 - Turn It Down - Long Version from the Cydonia Bonus Disc.
2 - Yungle - from Orbsessions Volume One.
3 – It’s A Small World - from Orbsessions Volume Two.
4 - A Mile Long Lump Of Lard - album track from the original Cydonia, sadly shorn of about 4 minutes in comparison to the promo CD-R’s – the earlier uncut version is here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdRHWgNo260)
5 - Freely Wheely ("Feely Wheely") - from Orbsessions Volume Two (where it's called Ba'albeck).
Bonus disc – Labyrinthus side
1 - Once More - album track from the original Cydonia.
2 - Ghostdancing - album track from the original Cydonia – can be replaced with the Version (instrumental) from the Cydonia Bonus Disc as it dispenses with the vocals and the crossfade into Turn It Down.
*Indeed, if we're going to bag a fourth bird** with one stone then copied here's the bulk of an abortive Braw blog about Bicycles & Tricycles found languishing in the Orbsessed drafts:- Such a curious album this, the tracks are pared right back - often composed of only a few repeating motifs with (seemingly) little attempt being made to merge the sound - and so overall it sounds quite cold, thin and clinically clean, lacking the warmth of (the slightly better and similarly minimal) Okie Dokie from the following year, no matter the fact B&T's more quirky samples heavy (a technique that can often round out and paper over any sonic shortcomings). Really only Gee Strings here has any decent spintime.... for it's rather short 5 minutes or so....
(It seems the point of all this was to ultimately compare the different 2003 Japanese album release with the 2004 UK release, but take it from Rob, they are both terrible....)
The Orb - Gee Strings
**a fifth bird is a barely there draft blog, 'Reliving The Dream' which has a clutch of links to reviews - the BBC, Pitchfork - and only goes so far as to suggest 'Tim Bran brings those essential Dreadzone dubby vibes' to The Dream album....
The Orb - Codes
Playlist >> Cydonia Redux