Life Out There

CD Cover One Step Beyond

Review by Darren Gawle

Circumcised Steinberger guitars. Six-string fretless basses. White boys in funky trousers pulling ridiculous 'musician faces' as they 'strive' to hit the 'perfect note.' Yes, that's what starts running through my mind when I hear the words 'fusion' and 'jazz' mentioned in the same sentence, too. Fusion Jazz wasn't supposed to have been this excruciating when Miles Davis recorded Bitches' Brew, but along came Uzeb and, well, Fusion deserved what it got.

So, at first listen you could be forgiven for dismissing One Step Beyond as a late-night TV talk show band in search of a late-night TV talk show. But why, then, are O.S.B. so much better than most talk show bands (and I'm looking in your direction, Mike Bullard...)? In search of this answer, you stumble over the great lost musical skill of listening to your bandmates.

There's just so much going on during any one of the jams on Life Out There that the inability of One Step Beyond to just lose the plot completely is an accomplishment in itself. As it is, it's like a bolt out of the blue when you hear the logical progressions of each song and that the members of O.S.B. are listening to what each other is doing, thus taking the music somewhere beyond the usual 'intro/solo/solo/solo/solo/solo/outro' format common to most projects comprised of musicians who think jazz is just a bunch of weird chords. (Ooo! A suspended seventh -- that's so avant garde!)

Of course, One Step Beyond fall victim to the usual cheesy instrumental song titles like "The Alarming Mal Evans" or "Life on Asteroid B-612," but if you can get beyond that and your prejudices against instrumental competence, One Step Beyond have a lot to teach you.

Artist Contact Info: Outside Music, 233 Carlaw Ave., Unit B5, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4M 2S1,

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 3, 1998

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