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.
Now a days Ian MacFarlane is a writer/full member of the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA). He has recorded three albums, and has several more in the 'works'.
Once described as a Renaissance Man of music and frequently praised for the unique style of his compositions, Ian has also been panned by some critics. 'What I have done won't suit everyone's tastes', he explains simply. Never completely satisfied by his recordings, and frustrated by equipment apparently unable to produce the soaring music he has in mind, Ian is his own worst critic. 'Being a perfectionist is hard on me and everyone else, and music depends more on feeling than on perfect notes and playing style', he says. 'Often you have to know when to give up on trying for perfection, and just enjoy the flow'.
Bio written by PA member American Progster