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Outside In

Crossover Prog

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Outside In Karmatrain album cover
3.55 | 11 ratings | 7 reviews | 18% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Let Me Go (4:53)
2. Blue Dragon (5:50)
3. Echoes and Stepping Stones (4:56)
4. Bridges (5:23)
5. Morning Warning (4:23)
6. The Lake (4:33)
7. The Garden of Light (5:21)
8. Mushrooms (5:34)
9. The Ferryman (5:35)
10. Pass On the Flag (4:31)
11. Om (5:11)
12. I Am Not the One (8:06)
13. Man Behind the Curtain (3:06)

Total Time 67:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Mikey Brown / vocals, synth, keyboards, guitar
- Jonnie Barnard / guitar
- Adam Tobeck / drums
- Elliott Seung Il Park / bass
- Joe Park / guitar

- Graham Bell / additional guitar (1,2,6,7,8,10,13)

Releases information

Released both digitally and through AAA Records
May 29, 2020

Thanks to kev rowland for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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OUTSIDE IN Karmatrain ratings distribution

(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

OUTSIDE IN Karmatrain reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Outside In are a rare beast indeed, as not only are they a progressive rock band, but they are a progressive rock band from New Zealand! Our wonderful country has a geographical mass a little larger than the UK, but less than five million people live here, and while a third of that population can be found around Auckland, realistically there is an incredibly small market for both live work and recorded material. But there are some who cannot help themselves and just have to perform, whatever cost and hard work that entails. The band came together a while back, releasing an EP as long ago as 2015, but there have been the usual issues with any new group and it is only fairly recently that the line-up stabilised around Mikey Brown (vocals and harmonies, lyrics, synthesisers, keyboards, guitar), Jonnie Barnard (guitars), Adam Tobeck (drums), Elliott Seung Il Park (bass) and Joe Park (guitar). Here is a band who are determined to do things their way, so even before they had an album deal they recorded a series of three videos which tell a story and should be watched in the correct order. They have since signed a deal with TeMatera Smith at AAA Records, and the result is 'Karmatrain'.

The obvious musical influences are Porcupine Tree and Radiohead, although some have also been pointing towards the likes of A Perfect Circle or Karnivool. In many ways the album revolves around the vocals, and Mikey Brown is one of the most exciting new male singers I have come across for a while, with the music swirling around so it all comes together. Just listen to the outro of 'Mushrooms' to hear what I mean, where the vocals mingle, rise and swell. But the reason the vocals are allowed to shine is due to the music, which is always the perfect accompaniment, so guitars can be staccato in one place to provide some emphasis or they can be more in the background. There is not much space in the production, but somehow there is still a great deal of clarity and no muddiness in the sound, it is just that to get the correct effect it needs to be all-encompassing. When going through a collection of potential songs for the album, Mikey realised a few were lyrically influenced by a novel he had read while on holiday in Nice about ten years ago, Hermann Hesse's 'Siddhartha'. The themes being fairly universal he decided to incorporate more of the book's influence into the writing process, until eventually it was obvious that this was becoming a concept album. The album has ended up with each of the 12 songs representing one of the 12 chapters from the book. Each song has a story that relates to that chapter, but also has a parallel story from his own experiences. It just gradually became a more conceptual thing which provided a framework to pin ideas against.

I've sat and listened to the album back to back four times today, and each time not only do I get more from it but am amazed that the music is so polished and finessed from a band that very few have come across before this. I had not, and I work in the same city! It was also self-produced by guitarist Jonnie Barnard (then mixed and mastered by Dave Rhodes), yet this sounds as if it could have come from a top studio. There are strong dynamics, shifts in tempo, and powerful performances from all the players. Listen to what is going on behind the lines and there are some simply stunning bass lines from Park while Tobeck is never settled and is constantly shifting the percussive approach. This means that some bars may be hi-hat/snare, others may just be cymbals, and he is putting in fills everywhere. Then on top of a complex foundation, the two guitarists mix and mingle. This is crossover progressive rock for the 21st century, influenced by more recent acts than many within the scene, creating a sound which is looking both to the recent past and also for the future. Outside In, the prog band from the end of the world you have never heard of. Outside In. Karmatrain. Investigate them on YouTube, then get the album.

Review by Rivertree
3 stars I came across them in a relatively common manner. Like most of the bands, quasi as an appetizer, they had offered song excerpts from their new album beforehand. Works well in most cases, almost always. OUTSIDE IN are from New Zealand, not a big prog scene there, as for that you have to look over at Australia, the neighbourhood. Okay, I know, not seriously comparable. Stylistically seen close to the likes of Entransient, Ossicles, A Liquid Landscape, Anubis they are not defining something eternally new, this should be said. That's not the case here. Anyhow, there's something regrowing again and again. Hence I'm thrilled that still new entertaining compositions and even real pearls are deriving from this meadows on and off.

The OUTSIDE IN crew is capable of serving sensitive and emotive ballads, that's assured. Trips to melt away, one can say. Well, Mikey Brown has a big share, his voice is rather charming. 'Everything Must Change' - due to this context Blue Dragon then evolves into a heavier direction with more expressive vocals. This so far describes it in general, here we have more than 60 minutes of material showing a unique balance of ballad-esque and heavier rocking moments. Hereby a few songs are average, too polished according to my taste. Though generally seen I find this a quite impressing album regardless. Hence, consequently, finally just let me emphasize one of their highlights, The Garden Of Light, a real masterpiece. Aah, I can't release, burnt into my mind somehow, I'm open to listen to this track again and again. 3.5 stars.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars It's said a NZ-based act OUTSIDE IN were founded a brainchild of a vocalist / multi-instrumentalist Mikey BROWN and a guitarist Jonnie BARNARD. Like a recent trend in the progressive rock scene, it sounds like the combo would have taken enough time to plan, record, produce, mix, and master, for this debut creation "Karmatrain" released in 2020. Featuring 12 brilliantly composed tracks with fantastic instrumental techniques, this album could be accepted by not only art rock fans but also 'authentic' rock ones, I suggest. On the contrary, for quite a few experimental rock freaks (like me), the soundscape in this album could not ring their bells enough probably ... you can find it be well-designed and well-matured though.

Mikey's voices are quite mellow and comfortable, and perfectly fit for their catchy, accpetable melody lines and rigid, sincere rhythmic deliveries. The first "Let Me Go" full of artistic sound outlines would give the overall definition for the whole album. One of their single-cut songs "The Garden Of Light", that might be an opportunity for their reunion, is pretty dramatic and immersive. Slightly complicated rhythmic progression in the last track "I Am Not The One" is my love really. Not found incredible sound innovation nor magnificent melody eccentricity in their creation, but you can definitely get immersed in their superb playing skills and elegant touches. A fascinating one for Crossover fans, let me say.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars The first thing that I noiced at the first listen was the clean voice of Mike Brown. I find it similar to that Of Marius Duda. Proceeding with the album the apparent connection with the polish Riverside acquired consistence. Of course this is not a clone, absolutely. I don't think Riverside have ever written something like "Bridges".

So what do they have in common? Other than the clean vocals, both the bands are very skilled and this album is also very well produced. Some passages remeinded me also of another band that I like: the Italians Profusion. This to say that what appears to be a connection to my ears is likely present in my ears only, but mentioning other artists trying to describe a debut album should help in identifying the genre and if it can appeal a potential new listener.

Outside In don't indulge in metal. The songwriting is more directed to solid melodies and quality arrangements. Some songs are also radio friendly, and the non-excessive length of the tracks, all around 5 minutes, will probably give the album some deserved air play.

Readin gother reviews I'm a little surprise to see that Morning Warning is not mentioned. I think it's the most various track. Also the following one, "The Lake" is very catchy. In particular this one brings to my mind the American band 1974 and their "Death of the Herald", Another album that I love.

I agree with the other reviewers about "I Am Not The One", the only track longer than 6 minutes. It's a perfect album closer. The final crescendo bring sthe listener to the album's end with a little surprise in the last seconds.

If you like any of the bands that I have mentioned here, this is for you. I also add that I'm personally bored by the Steven Wilson's productions which make every band, Riverside included, sound like Porcupine Tree. Ouside In luckily miss it.

Review by Matti
3 stars The debut album of OUTSIDE IN from New Zealand is a conceptual work based on Hermann Hesse's famous philosophical novel Siddhartha (which, by the way, also inspired Jon Anderson's rather cryptic lyrics on Yes's classic epic 'Close to the Edge' and was Camel's aborted source of inspiration before they settled on The Snow Goose novella). I have read the book long ago but would I have spotted the literary connection from the lyrics alone? Maybe 'The Ferryman' would have rung the bell, but anyway a patient listener can get a lot from the fine lyrics on this album.

Also musically there are several things to appreciate. The clean vocals of the frontman Mikey Brown are pretty good. I can relate to the previous reviewers's association to Mariusz Duda (Riverside) and I hear a dash of Paul Simon too. Occasionally the vocals are slightly treated in a Porcupine Tree manner but thankfully only a little. The production is very convincing for a debut. On some songs the melancholic feeling is truly beautiful. Can't say the band would sound very unique in these times, but they cannot be blamed of plainly copying any band either.

Being well over an hour long, in many places the album starts to sound a bit too same. For my taste, too much loud guitars (why so many basically similar-styled guitarists in the band?), and I wish there were more of those atmospheric spacier moments. The compositions are suitably tight but in my opinion too vocal-oriented in the prog scale. More often I actually think of this music as guitar-oriented indie rock than as prog. As a 40-minute album Karmatrain would have been very enjoyable. A solid three star album, definitely no less. I do hear a lot of potential and look forward to further releases with hopefully lesser emphasis on loud guitars and with more varied compositions.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One thing that has been learnt the hard way with the 2020 pandemic is the art of patience. Our Mad Mad World was reaching breakneck speed, perhaps even too rapid for our frail over-stressed and hyper-stimulated human minds. Suddenly, the quiet and slow set in. Waiting for mailed shipments was now an act of torture. I personally was forced to adopt the digital option over the postal hardcopy. I was kindly asked by New Zealand band Outside In to review their album Karmatrain , getting the download almost immediately with the assurance that the CD was en route from down under to Canada (as polar opposite as it gets in terms of distance). I am sad to but not surprised to report that the package has not arrived as of this writing. Oh well'.

Outside In is the musical vehicle oh hitherto unknown to me multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist Mikey Brown, augmented by a tight crew of solid musicians on guitars, bass and drums. The material on this sterling debut is clearly in the more accessible realms of prog, a genre that I welcome when I feel overwhelmed by too much complexity and daredevil soloing. As mentioned by many colleagues, the style is reminiscent at a distance to Porcupine Tree/Steve Wilson or Radiohead, but with a more ear-friendly approach. This does not mean that the music is in anyway predictable or yawn inducing. The best description would be clever, intelligent crossover prog that nurtures the soul and impresses the ears. The vocals are particularly divine, the finely chiseled melodies are also quite breathtaking, each composition anchored in engaging hooks, and emotional lyrical content. Right from the opening salvo on 'Let Me Go', the message is focused and the delivery precise. The attention to detail is evident, the melancholic tone genuine and passionately expressed. Mikey has a voice that shines through (I hear a tinge of another famous New Zealander, Tim Finn) , with enough sonic finesse in the arrangement to beguile the listener, On ''Echoes and Stepping Stones'', the intensity is ratcheted up to lofty heights, nearing bewilderment. The next tune ''Bridges' is in complete contrast, all gentle and pristine, arched by a rolling bass, flicks of guitar, muffled percussion and shuffling drums, while Mikey emotes effusively. Really pleasant stuff indeed. Keeping things always interesting, 'Morning Warning'' is ominous, creeping and intense, with a massive melody, chorus and 'sturm und drang' guitars, thick bass thunder and eager vocals. Really enjoying the flow, as each composition is diverse, originally twisted to please and laden with unexpected charm. Screeching guitars and insistent rhythms introduce ''The Lake', maintaining the momentum until we finally land on the album's masterstroke ''The Garden of Delight', a jewel of a song that encapsulates the style of this band perfectly. Arpeggio guitar, whistling wind, and a steady beat entice the ears, as Mikey sings the living daylight out of the tune, a main melody that is timelessly beautiful as the crescendo kicks in , feeling more like classic Anathema than anything else. Overpowering, exalted and massive, this is just an amazing 5 minute and 22 second performance of musical bliss. 'Mushrooms' is markedly more psychedelic as the title may imply, but very melodic with lots of orchestral d'cor, a slippery guitar solo and Mikey again singing his heart out until the adamant outro scatters on the horizon. 'Ferryman' has nothing to do with Roxy Bryan but rather a quirky sliver of charm, snippy riffs, choppy rhythmic convulsions and that overpowering voice to punch through the current, flow and ebb obvious and inspiring, as the song gentle fades away. 'Pass on the Flag' is a contrast between soft and hard, incisive and dreamy take turns in the spotlight. 'Om' is another fabulous melody, shoved along by a rousing riff, a spacious interlude that sets up another onslaught of power guitar and the masterful vocal. The finale may become the next step in their future career, as 'I am not the One' navigates a different path, a modern arrangement that includes rainy effects , a shimmering platform that weaves a well- thought out route, perhaps a slight Celtic tinge that explodes into occasional peaks of sound and fury, evoking Riverside perhaps or at the very least that style of hard-hitting progressive that likes to challenge the audience into guessing what comes next.

As most pieces are in the 4-6-minute range except for the proggy 8-minute finale, I would recommend a dash more instrumental expansion, maybe a few solos to highlight the arrangement even further. Or maybe a soft and fragile ballad to really underline the magical voice this man possesses. But that is just me and my fantasies talking. A fantastic debut and a potentially new discovery in the making. Whatever you do, Mikey, please continue and progress to higher elevations, if you would be so kind! I can wait patiently for your next one'.

4 Tibetan choo-choos

Latest members reviews

4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect] I have noticed a strange phenomenon this year. For whatever reason, though there have been many (and will yet be many) albums playing upon the theme throughout the years, 2020 seems to have a disproportionately high amount of albums describing th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2419141) | Posted by nick_h_nz | Sunday, July 12, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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