's second album was released in 1993
; it remains quite possibly their finest effort. Whilst 'The Yellow Album
' seemed to be a disjointed collection of singles with some filler, and their subsequent work has veered dangerously towards self-indulgence
and anonymity, overshadowed by the always-impressive live work, 'The Brown Album' (aka 'Orbital II' or 'The Brown One') is an integrated set of catchy, danceable, epic 'electronic listening music'. It works equally well as a single forty-minute chunk of driving music, and as a collection of individual songs.
The correct, full track listing is:
1. Time becomes
2. Planet of the shapes
3. Lush 3.1
4. Lush 3.2
5. Impact (the earth is burning)
7. Walk now
9. Halcyon + on + on
10. Input out
Although on the tape cassette version track two is called 'Planet of the tapes' (the two tracks are otherwise identical). The album was released in 1993 on ffrr records, home of Finitribe, reaching the top thirty at a time when the British public was becoming more and more receptive to esoteric electronic dance music. The previous year had seen The Orb reach number one in the album charts with the ambient 'U.F.Orb and for a time it seemed as if we had won.
Tracks 2-6 form a single, extended piece of music, whilst the first and last tracks are Steve Reich-esque experiments with overlapping loops similar to, but more elaborate than, 'Moebius' from their first album. According to a contemporary interview with Future Music magazine, 'Walk now' features the distinctive clicking sound of an Australian pedestrian crossing.
Whilst the album is of consistently high quality, 'Lush 3.1' and 'Halcyon + on + on' are the two immediate standout tracks, the former a piece of dance music that you can listen to an vice-versa, the latter an unspeakably lovely homage to A Guy Called Gerald's 'Voodoo Ray'.
The packaging is interesting - as with their first album, a blank postcard is included, with the text 'Fill this space'. The CD and tape booklets include odd graphics submitted by avid listeners of the first album. Unfortunately, we never found out what listeners of the second album produced, as Orbital's next album, 'Snivilisation', was much more professional and did not include the results. The Brown Album was Orbital's last release as an obscure, cult act; the strength of this and the previous album, coupled with the strength of their live shows, pushed them into mainstream attention as more than just an oddball Warp Records act (albeit that they were one of the few 'electronic listening music' acts of the period not actually on Warp Records).
The cover features the contemporary Orbital logo - a set of four crudely-drawn ovals overlaid on top of each other, and rotated by roughly twenty degrees - and the track listing. And a pair of kidneys.