The 10,000 hour rule. You know the one popularised by Malcolm Gladwell – that an average of 10,000 hours of dedicated practise will result in perfection of your craft. The jury is out on this rule of thumb, with some opining that innate talent is also a factor. However, if there was ever an example of hard work paying off, then Scottish producer Neil McDonald, aka Lord Of The Isles, can certainly be held up as such.
Interestingly, this excellent RA article explains that McDonald ‘failed a basic music test’ at school and had no particular musical training. Yet, catching the musical bug at an early age via sci-fi soundtracks through to Vangelis, The Orb and acid house, the undeterred producer remained obsessed with sound – continually honing his output and eventually delivering numerous EPs for labels including Phonica, Permanent Vacation and a soon to be released beauty for Firecracker.
Finally, Lord Of The Isles has turned his hand to a full length, working closely with Californian based ESP Institute to distil a wide selection of tracks from the past few years into ‘In Waves’. For a man without any academically noticeable ‘talent’ for music the resulting album is, quite simply, excellent.
"For a man without any academically noticeable 'talent' for music the resulting album is, quite simply, excellent."
Building on the theme of many of his EPs, where the dancefloor collides with beat less home listening, “In Waves” is everything you could hope for in a Lord Of The Isles release. Sparkling, iridescent, pulsating, cinematic, psychedelic, melodic, ambient techno – these are the applicable tags and more. It’s music inspired as much by Ralph McQuarrie as it is the remote Scottish highlands, Motor City sci-fi escapism and good old fashioned melody haunted by the ghost of acid house.
“Offline” bubbles along like a Land Cruiser trip through Endor. “Gravity Waves” pulses in orbit around Saturn as a deep voice intones ‘it’s beautiful’. Coruscating sparks and 303 shimmers thread across “In Years” . We effortlessly flit from the isolated beauty of “Gualainn” to the deep remote jungle of the “Yanomami” whilst subtle percussion drives us through a mist of delicate, muted pads.
Topped off with artwork from Hassan Rahim as beautiful as the contents within, this is a serious contender for electronic album of the year. And if we can’t convince you in words, have a listen to one of our favourites from the album below – the title of which means ‘clumsy’ in Scottish Gaelic, something “In Waves” is anything but.
In Waves is scheduled for release 11th November 2016, order a vinyl copy from Juno.
A1 Airgoid Meall
A2 Years Away
A4 Obar Liobhaite
C2 Three 2BU
C3 Gravity Waves
C4 Meserole Ave
D2 Plasma Nomad