Outside In ’s brand of alternative rock is a stylish and carefully produced version of noughties prog, music that could readily feature on any easy listening rock radio segment.
Music that though new is not demandingly so, and has a familiarity inherent in its format. Songs that typically build up over strong drum patterns (Adam Tobeck) and smart guitar lines, swell with consecutive vocal verses then head off into swirling full band soundscapes, before breaking back down – typically lasting five or more minutes.
The Auckland five-piece includes three guitarists in Jonnie Barnard and Joe Park plus lyricist/vocalist Mikey Brown, who also provides the keys/synth components, so there are not many gaps to be found.
Brown has a warm, confident, rarely challenging tenor voice that wouldn’t have been out of place back in the early days of prog when the focus fell more on the musicianship within bands.
And there’s plenty of that here, along with some very adept production that allows for layering of vocal tracks and includes unexpected treats like oddball synth sounds, children’s voices and native bird song.
They are not a ‘heavy’ band, except in places like The Garden Of Light, and while the bass playing of Elliott Seung Il Park doesn’t frequently stand out it is certainly a strong feature.
Outside In seem to perform infrequently, which leads to the assumption that they are all prior experienced musicians, possibly working professional careers, who value and deliver quality in their musical output. The 12 tracks on ‘Karmatrain’ certainly bear that out.