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Travel through time with Dr Who of music

villagers {Awayland} (Domino)

Few artists can be trusted to accurately describe their work.

Invariably they'd have us believe that a toppling basilica of bombast is as streetwise as a market stall. Or describe their sonic khazi as if it was the Taj Mahal after a Michelangelo makeover.

Conor J O'Brien is different. He survived the disintegration of former hotly tipped The Immediate to deliver a notable debut, Becoming A Jackal, three years ago. The title track earned him an Ivor Novello songwriting award. Further accolades can be expected for his new 11-track collection.


The album arrived with a cutesy note from Conor. The album, he says, is constructed as "a tribute to your sense of wonder". "It travels through space and time and leaves you back for dinner," adds Conor, like a Dr Who who's just discovered that Whelan's was really the Tardis.

I won't argue. Like Schrodinger's cat, {Awayland} highlights the peculiarities of quantum entanglement, as Conor flits through myriad worlds, landscapes, mindsets with the ease of a practiced psychedelian.

With Tommy McLaughlin in tow, Conor has shaped a series of sonic vignettes that delight the inner ear with multi-layered orchestral flourishes, intimate audio verite passages and some understated funky rhythms.


As evidenced on the clip-clop dream sequence Earthly Pleasure, Conor is in touch with forces "from the cavern of my soul" where he finds a presence "speaking Esperanto and drinking ginger tea".

Those rushing to compare his stream-of-consciousness style to Leonard or Bob, miss the nearer-to-home freeform romanticist Fionn Regan, who might wish he could have trademarked his lyrical cloak.

Gentle bubbling electronica suits Conor's wobbly vibrato on The Waves. The piano that ushers in Nothing Arrived has enough of Bruce Hornsby about it to ensure that this exquisite existential pop song will go big in America.

Singing like a demented choir-boy, cherubic Conor laughs in the face of his 28 years on the planet. HHHHI