Outlands is Melissa Smith and Mark Arciaga, a "disco-noir" production duo from Blacksburg, VA, which I have to pause and think about. Like my hometown, Morgantown, WV, Blacksburg houses a land grant university; Blacksburg can tout itself as Businessweek's "Best Place in the U.S. to Raise Kids", but my alma mater dominates Mo-town and distinguishes itself with the title of America's "#1 Party School" (having recently regained it) and, ironically, an aggressive approach to out-of-state enrollment that's triggered massive land use and the development of slap shod apartment complexes to house our immigrants, themselves happy to find a third of the historic downtown given over to a vain sequence of clubs for their personal edification.
However pathological my town might be, something about the association of "disco-noir" with Blacksburg reminds me of the unusual dynamics that motivated artists can create through their efforts. Outlands' self-titled debut EP, which sports the words: "In Times Like These There are No Boundaries", seems to make the clearest assertion; the internet is empowerment to create your own abstract communities. Boundaries of one kind or another continue to exist, but they've become radically different or simply unrecognizable, so whatever process yielded a band like Outlands can't be straightforward. The duo's romantic involvement seems to lend further emphasis, though receiving their info by way of a British publicist is of more or less interest in understanding their trajectory. Jeff from Type PR. Incidentally, Jeff doesn't get enough credit - a truly great publicist, one of the last few years' great facilitators of boundary-less society, and I thank him.
In particular, I thank him for this Mirror Kisses remix of Outlands' early single and a regular favorite, "Com Ocean", that still sounds like one of their most potent testaments; all funky groove and rhythm, artfully navigated by Smith's strong vocals. Mirror Kisses' treatment is brighter in spite of the "Bad Dream" tag he's given it, though his re-arrangement of vocal and ancillary tracks emphasizes darker elements of the balance that Outlands have achieved in their recordings. More charged with his own meaning and a suite of more assertive sounds, evocative where the original is introspective; the two sound like totally distinct works, neither dark nor bright, but each as compelling realized.
Stream/Download: Outlands - Com Ocean (Mirror Kisses Bad Dream Remix)
Outlands is sold out of its original cassette and I suspect digital distrubition arrangements are being made because for the moment it's only streaming via the Chill Mega Chill bandcamp. Look for a self-released digital EP in September on the band's own bandcamp.