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(18:35; Allgood Absolute Alternative Records)
There is no doubt that one of the breakouts of the year in the progressive scene has been Auckland’s Outside In, whose debut album ‘Karmatrain’ has been receiving rave reviews all over the world. But the band actually has a somewhat longer musical career than many may realise, and this EP was released as long ago as 2015. The core of Mikey Brown (vocals, keyboards, theremin, guitar), Jonnie Barnard (guitar, synth, samples) and Adam Tobeck (drums) were all involved, but at the time they were a quartet with bassist Adam Willis. A little more than 18 minutes long, this shows a band already committed to the music in that this is a physical release, well packaged and includes lyrics. Musically they are heavily influenced by Radiohead and Porcupine Tree, with the vocals being always front and centre. One can hear why Tobeck is these days an in-demand session drummer as he is never willing to relax and go with the flow but is always driving onwards. Willis keeps it together, and then it is down to Brown and Barnard to create the melodic magic at the front as they interweave. At times it can just be vocals and piano, and at others it may be multi-layered, but it never sounds like the debut release of an independent outfit coming from the end of the world. This is polished, refined, with superb production, and contains songs which get inside the listener’s mind and stays there. This passed me by when it was first released, as back then I was working on my books and trying to hard to avoid all new music to keep focus, and that is verity much my loss. For those who enjoy polished, melodic progressive rock from one of the most interesting bands around then Outside In very much need to be on your radar. Search them out on YouTube where they have self-produced wonderful videos, then get both this and ‘Karmatrain’. Luckily enough we still have gigs here in Aotearoa, and I am off to see them for the second time this year later this week. You owe it to your ears to discover Outside In.
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