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IAN MACFARLANE

Progressive Electronic • Australia


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Ian MacFarlane biography
Ian MacFarlane began his career in mid-late 1960s and played often at a well known Wellington coffee house. At the time he was an avid listener of the Grateful Dead and would form an experimental band 'Cobwebs and Strange' which tried to cash in on the psychedelic music revolution. In the 70's MacFarlane started experimenting with cutting edge (at the time) electronics and gave birth to his career as a progressive electronic musician. In 1977 Ian MacFarlane would travel to Bamyili in the Northern Territory of Australia in hopes of learning secret songs and music of the native peoples.

In 1978 Ian MacFarlane began recording under the name of Violet Lightning, a Japanese theme in poetry and literature. The recording also featured lyrics about the Void, suggested in the Book of Five Rings, a martial arts masterpiece, written by master-swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. The resulting album 'Void Spirit' was released in 1979 on the newly created Neutron Star label to critical acclaim by some critics while being panned by others, but most importantly it was a success among fans of fellow electronic bands such as Cybotron, Rainbow Generator, and Tangerine Dream. In 1980 Ian returned to the studio and recorded Back from Beyond, under his own name this time. Back from Beyond also garnered some acclaim and success among fans and critics alike, although it is more celebrated today. From 1978-1983 Ian played with Cybotron, who was Australia's leading electronic group at the time, during their live performances. He contributed by playing keyboards and including his own electronics, which added a certain touch that made Cybotron even more unique.

In 1985 MacFarlane played live at the World Trade Centre in Melbourne. A powercut during rehearsals wiped all sequences and programs -- part of the hassles faced by all electronic musicians in those days. It took a couple of hours to reload all data, but the two performances went ahead without further problems. In 1987 Ian once again returned to the studio and recorded his third album Planetarium on Balliang Eternal Music label. During this time Ian provided several of the Station ID jingles for radio stations 3-RRR-FM (and its predecessors like 3-RMT-FM) in Melbourne, Australia. One of which, entitled Earth Rythms, was included on a compilation called The Melbourne New Age Collection: Electronic Music Compositions by Australian Musicians that was released in 1988 by the Melbourne radio station 3-PBS-FM.

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IAN MACFARLANE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Void Spirit (as Violet Lightning)
1979
4.91 | 2 ratings
Back From Beyond
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Planetarium
1987

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IAN MACFARLANE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Back From Beyond by MACFARLANE, IAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.91 | 2 ratings

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Back From Beyond
Ian MacFarlane Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt

5 stars A memorable electronic journey!

When everyone turned to synth-pop or drum-boxes, Ian Macfarlane, went further by going back and staying in place.

Taking advantage of people selling whatever to attend the World Cup, I bought wholesale a bunch of late 60's to mid-80's, almost mint condition, "electronic prog" vinyls. Some are uninteresting, some are near jewels, and those which I will highly recommend. "Back from Beyond", 1980, IAN MACFARLANE's second known release, is one of those.

Highly creative, all the way through, it is deep, yet impressively playful. It travels in two, 20 minute compositions, routes that others, take records to pull out. It is "cosmic" and "space-like", but on purpose also "un-tech" and retro. Its inherent unpretentiousness helps to focus on its real beauty. (Although the "studio work" is apparently minimal, it is in fact amazing. )

Really, some parts seem to have been recorded with Casio's early mini, rudimentary keyboards and its drum-boxes. But good music needs no "Steinway", to still be good.

To explain the music itself is quiet a task. So, P/E's and Krautrockers imagine the best parts of your favorite segments of those electronics you like, slice them away of any unnecessary over production, simplify its timing, enhance the melody itself, undress it, and then shower it with artful electronic effects and thread them all in 2 long timed single compositions, connected by its sci-fi concept. There you go! Something like that is the way this album sounds like. The few vocal parts sound fresh, because there are few, and never preaching, but just singing along.

Instrumentation: Mainly simple electronic keyboards, synths, some piano lines, some splashes of acoustic and electrics, some also very poignant but still splashes of creative bass lines, lots of very imaginative sound effects, always kept in size, and best of all FLAWLESS music writing. And yes!, this is no synth-pop, this is a masterful progressive electronic album, which simply did not got a break! (no reviews since 1980, is shameful!)

A lesson for those who think production equals talent.

*****5 complete PA stars!

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