ROB COTTINGHAM

Prog - - Echoes - RM

Back Be­hind The Or­chard Tree SELF-RE­LEASED

Cairo main­man re­vis­its solo de­but with stun­ning re­sults.

Back in 2001, Rob Cottingham girded his mu­si­cal loins to pro­duce Be­hind The Or­chard Tree. It was a labour of love, cre­ated in just a week on ana­logue tape and a lot of good will. It was also a key prompt for the cre­ation of Brit band Touch­stone. The orig­i­nal line-up was drawn from Or­chard Tree mu­si­cians and the name Touch­stone was drawn from

All We’ve Done, one of the al­bum’s sweet­est tracks. Fans will recog­nise some of the riffage on Or­chard Tree from Touch­stones’ first EP Mad Hat­ters.

Cottingham’s de­ci­sion to re­visit the orig­i­nal al­bum earns its ex­tended ti­tle, Back Be­hind The Or­chard Tree. In­deed, in places, the mix­ing, ad­di­tions and re­mas­ter­ing are so star­tling it’s prac­ti­cally a new al­bum. At least three fac­tors drive this trans­for­ma­tion. Firstly, Cottingham – af­ter the suc­cesses of Touch­stone, his cur­rent out­fit Cairo and his 2013 solo, Cap­tain Blue – has come of age. Se­condly, the riches of mod­ern tech en­able him to cre­ate fresh tex­ture from the orig­i­nal tapes. The re­mas­ter has both space and depth. And, fi­nally, the

ad­di­tion of Lonely Ro­bot and It Bites mae­stro John Mitchell sprin­kles the pro­duc­tion and gui­tar equiv­a­lents of fairy­dust across the tracks. The ef­fect is mag­nif­i­cent. Mitchell helps make Or­chard Tree a fully fruit­ing of­fer­ing. It’s heav­ier, crisper and – per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, given Mitchell’s sub­lime axe skills – sprayed with su­perb gui­tar wig-outs.

Or­chard Tree is no re­tread. There is a new track, Out Of Time, which has a sat­is­fy­ing post-in­dus­trial feel and a stel­lar Mitchell solo – as well as guest vo­cals from Cottingham’s daugh­ter Kerry and the daz­zling Es­ther Wild­man. The re­work­ings of old tunes are fas­ci­nat­ing. In par­tic­u­lar, Find Me be­comes a vast echo­ing med­i­ta­tion with flavours of Gil­mour-led Floyd. The solo­ing from both Mitchell and Ana­toliy Vy­ach­eslavov on sax is spine-tin­gling.

This is a timely rere­lease. Cottingham chan­nels the groovy warmth of the orig­i­nal ana­logue record­ings and makes them con­tem­po­rary. With the right PR it might just in­tro­duce Cottingham to an en­tirely new au­di­ence.

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