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.