Though being a Disco and a Post Punk enthusiast since a tender young age, Indoor Life admittedly passed me by for quite some time. In pre-internet days, all the media resources I had access to (which actually were as many music magazines I could afford to read and as many radio shows within reach I could listen to) proved their unreliability by not offering me any information about them. There was no good friend who discovered their releases in a record shop, and they escaped my digging fingers as well.
When I finally stumbled upon Indoor Life years later, while researching potential gaps in my extensive Patrick Cowley collection in the web, even the few low research details and low quality vinyl rips I could gather made it more implausible how this outfit could fly so below all radars, and more importantly, for so long. How could I unearth the entire catalogue of a phenomenal band like Philadelphia’s The Stickmen while still being a teenager, who had less information circulating, less releases and probably never toured outside the US, and totally overlook this one, which connected even more of my interests? A band from the golden days of San Francisco Disco and Post Punk, produced by the legendary Hi-NRG originator Cowley himself? Post Punk AND Patrick Cowley! It was puzzling to say the least, and it sounded too good to be true.
Only it wasn’t. The CD-R copy a friend in the UK had sent me (I may have had internet access by then, but file sharing was still way ahead) sounded even better. There was a notable absence of guitars, but not to be missed, as the bass played with as much heavy funk as anything featuring Bill Laswell, but with a different edge, in perfect unison with ultra-precise and similarly heavy funky drums, both often deviating to rhythm and groove of an almost feverish quality. The synthesizer sequences and sounds indeed were similar to what Cowley did on his famed productions in the Disco area, but here they were a whole lot more experimental and dark and added a congenial atmospheric edge to the proceedings. A plethora of weird effects and particularly this absolutely stunning and unique use of the trombone added even more. And on top of it, this charismatic voice, sounding like nobody else’s, singing words of strangely tainted romanticism and that kind of futuristic alienation that would not age awkwardly. Listening to it all I was floored, and instinctive attempts to compare it to other seminal protagonists of that time soon failed into nowhere. And as that meant seeking parallels to other music created in an incredible productive and innovative era, this of course was quite something. Indoor Life were an impressively smart archetype, ahead of their time in many ways. Like in hindsight, so many were not.
It was certainly predictable that I would purchase everything they did, even if it would take years. But I would as certainly never have predicted that I would ever be involved with what the person behind the voice had done with Patrick Cowley before Indoor Life, or that I would even get to know him, and find him to be one of the finest and most interesting persons I have ever met, and a good friend. But that’s another story. In the meantime, consider yourself very lucky that you have much quicker access to the genius of Indoor Life than I had. “Archeology”, indeed…
(Liner notes for Indoor Life retrospective)