Holding back the Bleep Years... I'll keep writing on. (Sorry.)
1993: Orbital's Planet Of The Shapes
Orbital's brown album, or Untitled 2, or Orbital 2, was the album after Chime and Belfast and their green-covered, equally-untitled rave debut. Techno bands were starting to discover the album format and began to appeal as much to armchair slouchers as to clubbing gurners. The brown album combined dancefloor immediacy with the long player: tracks two to six were designed to be listened in one go.
The most enduring tracks on the album were versions of older tracks, such as Remind and Halcyon+on+on. But the one that stays with me, the one that haunts me in the dark places, is track two, Planet Of The Shapes. It was the first Orbital track I heard all the way through and it was an ear-popping epic with lazers, moody synth lines and crashing drum beats.
How I discovered the brown album is quite telling. I was turning 20 and felt like I was losing my childhood identity fast. I remember sitting in a tree writing down everything I thought I was and everything I wanted to be. Every longing and every hope cut me sharply at that age: I had a desperate need for connection.
I brought out a copy of the NME whilst up the tree. It described a strange album without a name, full of weird noises, and I decided there and then that this was the music I was going to connect with - even though I hadn't heard a note. I bought Orbital's brown album as soon as I could.
My love for Orbital continues. The tree has since fallen to the ground with age. I am still not everything I want to be. If I was still a teenager, I'd recognise the metaphor in that. But I'm not. I still like lazers, though.