Ian o’Brien – Natural Knowledge

As Ian’s now got a load of new and old stuff available to buy on Bandcamp, I thought I’d pick out a personal fave from his awesome back catalogue. From 1999’s Gigantic Days album on Peacefrog, this is simply one of the most life-affirming, joyous pieces of electronic music I’ve ever heard. Using an ingenious flip of Billy Cobham’s Spanish Moss, he lays down a loop with three bars of five beats followed by a bar of four, and proceeds to add layer upon layer of percussion and synths. By the three-minute mark there’s a glorious major-key chord cycle in play, and at seven minutes he lets a two-bar fanfare roll out with some seriously funky Rhodes and Hammond work before the ecstatic synths return.

It’s a big, big tune and there’s a level of musicianship, compositional skill, ambition and soul in this that hardly anyone can hold a candle to, in my eyes. The best part is that there’s tons more amazing music where this came from, including a stunning new album, and anything you buy from Bandcamp will go towards helping victims of the 2011 Japanese earthquake/tsunami.


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