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Internal/External



In 1997, Paul Schuster, keyboardist for a latter-day incarnation of Some Velvet Sidewalk, started dabbling with electronic music. Soon after he started wondering what might happen if some of his indie rock cohorts shared in his dabbling, so he assembled a cast of famous friends and neighbors to contribute to a group project he dubbed Internal/External. Together they produced an experimental electronic album, 2000's Featuring..., that is marked by the distinct flavor of the fertile and varied Olympia, Washington music scene. Numerous local artists tackled Schuster's compositions, including Lois, Sleater-Kinney Carrie Brownstein, Bikini Kill Kathleen Hanna, K Records' own Calvin Johnson, and Unwound's Justin Trosper.

For Schuster, "The most exciting part of the project was giving out copies of songs to friends, without any clue as to what they would return with." The results were as varied as the guests themselves: from the warm, funky groove and burbling, sparkly keys that twinkle around Maffeo's dulcet-toned voice on "Hope" to the loud, crunchy guitar, insistent beats, and experimental electronic noise of "Quantize," featuring Tropser. Internal/External explores many different moods on the album, which is by turns loungy, smooth, and jarring.

Schuster had such a good time making the record he reprised it with his 2001 Inside Out EP. This time he tapped only one assistant, the Pacific Northwest's resident folk diva, Rebecca Pearson. Together they wander through sun-splashed ambient skyscapes, pillowy slow jams, trippy beat explorations, and delicate electro-pop, as in the case of "Sweetness."

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