• Insides
  • Clear Skin (UK Guernica/4AD) 1993 
  • Euphoria (Guernica/4AD) 1993 
  • Earwig
  • Past (UK La-di-da) 1992 
  • Under My Skin I Am Laughing (UK La-di-da) 1992  (La-di-da America) 1994 

Less R&B-influenced than the similarly moody Portishead, the Brighton duo Insides recalls an older stratum of offbeat, melodically simple semi-electronic music. On Euphoria songs like “Walking in Straight Lines,” “Distractions” and the intriguingly titled (but unrelated) “Carly Simon,” it’s hard to decide which is lovelier, Julian Sergei Tardo’s sonic backdrop (the hypnotic, circular synth patterns and gently ticking beats of Kraftwerk; deep New Order basslines; limpid, echoing guitar reminiscent of Durutti Column reverberator Vini Reilly) or Kirsty Yates’ haunting, breathy vocals. The overall effect is entrancing, a combination as timeless and tranquil as Young Marble Giants or Chris and Cosey. The adjunct Clear Skin consists of one wan 38-minute track of wordless instrumental gentility that suggests Insides own a well-worn copy of Tubular Bells. Good soundtrack for soaking.

Prior to their contraction into Insides, Yates and Tardo had, along with Dimitri Voulis, been Earwig, a trio that pursued a more guitar-oriented path akin to Cranes or Slowdive. The group’s first three 12-inch singles (1990-’91) were collected on 1992’s Past. By the time Earwig’s proper debut album, Under My Skin I Am Laughing, was issued later that year, the sound-as on the (included) fourth single “Every Day Shines” — was wafting closer to Euphoria‘s unknown electronic pleasures.

[Greg Fasolino]