Once as a twenty something, when I was going to our local record store several times a week and hanging out with the Man in charge of this store, I was told that my taste was really "Detroit", after picking up 111 album from Omar S to my cart, which was at the time lost in the Deep crate. As only discovering Electronic Music by this time in mid 2000's, I asked the guy as an ignorant as I pleasantly feel to be in those times : "what is it all about?". He said to me, if you wanna learn what the real spirit of Detroit's soul is, you need to listen to Ian O'Brien.
Detroit, is not a city. A lot more influential then an idea of Music, a religion or a cult, and of course a lot more precious then just a trendy word you could stick on to any kind of hot stuff (don't you dare thinking of doing that around me). Detroit to me, is the Name of the spirit protecting the vision of truth that lives deep inside, within Music, not only electronic music, but just any kind of music that wants to firmly speak the exactitude, using the words from the Black & White notes coming together without hoping that "this will work", but with the confidence that these are the words that needed to be said.
All this being said, and really paying a closer attention to Ian's infinite musical work of art, I would say it's not necessarily what I was told when my friend sold me the idea that Ian re-invented Detroit Techno. As deeply inspired by the Motor City as one can be, one can never be able to make Detroit Music, unless they lived in Detroit. That's a point of view of which I assume all the related responsibility for every word that it implies. But that being said, the achievement of the Man goes further then just sending forth more fuel to the burning fire which sourced a major part of his insipiration.
See, the common factor between a follower, and a Master, relies on the fact that both of them will feed to the source, a perfect image of what it already is, for it to stay alive to the eyes of the judging raging fans, and for the sake of feeling like they are on the right path regarding their own taste. A Master though, will always at some point, jump over the fire to see how the beach looks like around the camp, explore, and come back with seashell he found outside the circle of security designed by the camp.
The Master will always ad his own stone to the wall, and never consider the construction finished, until the air is cold enough for the people that climb to stop breathing.
Ian O'Brien's music did not, and will not stop by the borders of a passion for Detroit's High Tech Jazz. It has expanded beyond according to his inexhaustible source of knowledge of music, and 20 years later still finds its way on the road of oringality as well as in the field of reference. Therefore, it was inevitable for me to fulfill my desire to tell the musical story of Ian O'Brien, through 7 of his milestone tracks, which are actually available on Bandcamp. Enough drawling, let's dive into this.
LISTEN BLOG WEEK #7 / FOCUS ON IAN O'BRIEN
This recently released piece, is actually the perfect introduction to Ian's Music, rather then starting off from the beginning of his rather dance-able explorations. Ian here, serves the ideal vision of what smooth jazz should have sounded like at the beginning of the introduction of Synthesizers in the late 70's, right before jazz men stopped giving a fuck about Low end (and absolute nightmare orchestrated majestically by "Tutu", in my opinion). The recent death of Chick Corea, cannot help me not relate this someway, somehow, to "In A Silent Way". Why? My brain holds secrets from me I couldn't even tell myself, especially when I try my best to explain to the world the extent of the talent of a man after an exhausting day of work, falling asleep on my keyboard.
There we go : the legendary Ian O'Brien Polyrhythm. I love to get lost on this as much as I understand fuckall about it. I'm trying my best, but quickly get overwhelmed by the infinite load of emotions filling my stomach with the same feeling I get when the sun starts to shine a little longer at the end of March. They say that stomach have a nervous system able to be completely autonomous, as well as able to transfer emotions the same as your brain does. It's also called "trusting the guts". This sort of beat, does not only invite you to listen to the sound (other then the one of the chick peas), but the silent whispers of what Chinese Medecine calls the Center of the Emotions. This is the place where you can feel the veracity of a musical expression. It does not lie. But does not forgive either. Ladies and gentlement, make space for the dance of your intestines. A light dinner is highly recommended.
With this one, Harold Budd can put his coat on, and go outside for a walk to try to understand how people can surpass him at messing deeper and deeper, with your very own conception of true beauty. Ambient, Jazz, Soul, even slightly New Age, all meet there for a grand feast at the table of the Lord himself. Sit comfortably on the leather couch of these chords, have a sip of that silky drink, and let yourself be quickly surrounded by these clever arpeggios, voices and strings, all backed up by that rim shot and those toms. If after this you still think before buying the entire album, your humanity is way up your shit pipe.
Have I said Jazz? Well let's dive a little deeper with these rides, the same rides everyone is trying their best to play, sample, reproduce in their music (100% GUILTY). Herbie's soul is invited to the game with this resonating high bass, but quickly overcome by those sci fi pads, and these classic O'Brien signature sound pads. Now you're starting to understand the extent of this sound, how far it can travel through time, as you feel like we are progressing onwards, as we actually go backwards. Back in to Time, "The Good Ol' Days". There is nothing like that when you listen to this music. The good days are neither old or new as your mind leaves a conception of time which anyway was useless, facing the Master showcasing his sincere passion as a gift for the generations to come.
We spoke about Soul, and the influence of a Motorcity like sound on the man himself. This is what this sound got me thinking of. The place where it all originated, the people who unconsciously prepared the way for the Lord. Prepared the way carefully for all the greatness we did not see coming, and felt like a giant facepalm. like a child facing a sunset for the first time, being conscious this is happening effortlessly and as easy as it could get. Hold on a minute, not that easy at all in terms of musical composition. It is melodically as complex as making me wanna puke at anybody talking about melodic music. Wanna know what's the real deal when notes sing in harmony? Real notes, not the ones you've collected in your wallet stealing and perverting the idea of depth for your own success, but the ones who's presence is only there to shine the light on the purest expression life can ever witness.
Ian, I said it many times, and I say it again, you'll kill me with this, and with a smile on my face.
Now that we've laid on the table the map for the extended musical universe this Rocket Scientist is able to travel through at the speed of light, let's take you back to some of his dancefloor killing acts for a moment, in order to exhale the excess of emotions we've all been accumulating. That swing, that roughness in the drums, this sound not completely clean with enough personality for it to stand, original in the middle of hundreds of people who tried but never succeeded to walk this path.
Enough musicality for your heart to be filled, but enough rhythm for you to want to dance. An evolving theme, a subtle chord progression, AND THOSE STRINGS I'M STILL LOOKING FOR !!!!! AAAAAAAAH !!! I wanna scream now, but at the same time my eyes start to close. I'm exhausted, but god this music... This is partially what made me seal the deal between my Soul background and my Electronic aspirations. This was one of the last stones to the bridge. The ones that hold it tight rain or shine, but most importantly the ones that shatter my heart at the end of an intense set. We keep desert for the end of the meal, therefore we'll save this music for when the sun comes up.
You are now infected as well by the Mad Mike Disease, and it doesn't look like there will ever be any vaccine, quarantine, aspirine, or wisdom to cure your heart from this. Once you are infected, you're gone for life. But the good news is that you stay alive, healthy, and pretty much energized by the invasion of this frenetic virus, infused in Funk, Soul, Jazz, love for Forward thinking Electronic Music, passion for Melody, Harmony, warmth, sharpness and intelligent yet very simple constructions.
Closing on a Classic, the one everyone was waiting for probably, as my desire was for you to remember the existence of a highly under estimated musicians respected by some of the greatest people Electronic Music has counted in its ranks, defending the Gospel of a still futuristic, unstoppable sound. He was, is, and will be part of that Resistance that brought hope, inspiration, sweat, and tears to a generation of ravers that nowadays still regred the days when this music was only made to escape an undesirable form of reality, rather then for fame and honors. Would you mind for my twisted words to aim for these honors Ian? I hope not, these come from my heart, the same as your music does hopefully.