In 1993 Slowdive released an EP featuring 2
remixes of their track In Mind. These remixes were, well,
shoegazer music done as ambient electronica. The mixes took
Slowdive's lush guitarwork and rich harmonies, cut it up, added
some funky beats, and spat out magnificent slices of dubbed
out spacey wanderings.
However, from there the band retreated. Guitarist Christian
Savill and bassist Nick Chaplin eventually feuded with band
leader Neil Halstead, them leaving during the recording of Pygmalion
over the overabundance of electronics in the production, and
Halstead himself having a sort of allergic reaction to the electronics
and retiring into
the world of folk rock.
Slowdive pointed at something wonderful and brilliant, but
never really did anything with that information. A few artists
since then have come pretty close to actualizing the dream that
the In Mind remixes EP hints at: Bowery Electric
on Beat, much of the work of Project
Skyward, and The Bows all come pretty close. Mallory, however,
live the dream. They fulfill it.
Mallory are what Slowdive would have sounded like had they
embraced rather than ran screaming in terror from electronic
production. Judging from their
website (warning, it's in German!), they are a 4-piece and
almost every member is credited with "programming" (apparently
that word is a direct cognate into German. who knew?) However,
if you look at the photos ("Bilder"), you see them holding instruments
on stage somewhere and being rockers. So i dunno. I would have
thought this a more electronic band than that, but maybe it
is just the production of this album that leads me to believe
The production on this album is shiny smooth. The beats are
groovey and the bass is sultry. A low keyboard drone burbles
under most everything, and that plus the scattered nature of
the rhythm led/leads me to believe that this is an electronic
Who knows? Who cares?
The point is this: Outerbeats is a wonderful
achievement. It fits neatly within the small and, in my opinion,
underdeveloped genre of electro-shoegaze. If you like that stuff,
coming at it either from the synthpop side of things or the
shoegaze side of things, then you should check this album out.
A few tracks stand out: Xirius Polar Station is an amazing
instrumental that simmers along in mid-tempo electronic funkitude.
The Choice You Have and, especially, I Can't Stand,
would have been at home on Pygmalion, with their
male/female vocal harmonies and delicious guitarwork. Argo
Night Shuttle is another stunning piece of remixed shoegazer
goodness, with effected guitars and funky beats.
One thing i find interesting is the vocals on Three Elements
(Watamu Remix), which ends the album. This is a nice dance
electro sounding remix of a song not on the album, and for the
first time on the album the vocals actually have a hint of an
accent. That is, despite the German nature of the band, you
wouldn't know from (most of) the singing. Here though, Daniela
Neuhäuser sounds quite German, her crisply accent English adding
a slight flavor to the vocals. Otherwise, neither her nor Jörg
Köhler sing with an accent. I find that really wierd, and yet
it often happens that European bands sing, in English, without
an accent. Why is that? Is it that they are affecting an American
Accent in their singing, like certain bands affect a British
accent, and thus i don't notice? Hmmm....
Anyway, this is a nice disc. If you are interested in electro-shoegaze,
or shoegaze in general, then you should track down a copy. If
you are not into that, then this probably won't appeal. Hardcore
Slowdive fans will either love this or be offended at it's derivative
Outerbeats was orignally released in 2001 by
Alison Records in Germany, but was picked up last year by Clairecords
out of Sacremento, CA, so it should be somewhat easy to find.
The version that i reviewed here is the American Version, which
has a slightly different track listing than the original German