Ironically, one of Cascadia's newest electronic ambassadors has been around for a decade but is only now making waves internationally. Portland's Let's Go Outside is about to embark on his first major European tour in support of his debut album on Soma Records, A Picnic with the Hunters, a sprawling work with only a dark, spacious aesthetic as the glue binding its stylistically diverse tracks.
Unlike many electronic music producers, Let's Go Outside works as a catchall moniker for Steve Schieberl, who eschews the popular approach of developing different personas for each production style. The result is an album that successfully includes a wide range of electronic music, creating intersections between techno, electro, and abstract production. "When I went through to pick out the tracks for the album, I started with about a hundred," says Schieberl during a rushed call from the airport. "I wanted to get the point across that I'm not just making dance music. I narrowed it down to tracks that didn't sound like the others so there was no way to confuse any of the tracks for each other."
Needing to whittle down from a hundred only hints at how much Schieberl generates. He's also a DJ, with a record collection that reaches back to when he first got into electronic music in the early '90s. He regularly posts mixes of whatever he's into at the moment, in addition to producing a track "every few days." He admits that there's a lot of chaff to sift through, but he can't help himself. "I'm not trying to be prolific; I've just got a lot of ideas in my head and I have to get them out," he says. "Not all of it's good. I only keep about half." Schieberl estimates he's got "around 540" masters on his hard drive.
The tracks chosen for A Picnic with the Hunters illustrates the variety of Schieberl's tastes. Album opener "I Keep on Trying" evokes classic Detroit tones with its warm, bouncy bass and futuristic synths. "Peripheral" is a clicky, disquieting slow burner. One of the album's (many) highlights is its first single, "I'll Lick Your Spine," a "lust" song that treads on the darker side, with Christina Broussard's breathy vocals telling just how she'll make you hers. The chugging "My First Time" and the ghettotech-informed "Girls Don't Like Me" are the album's first bangers, each begging for as much volume as possible. The album closes with the blissful "My Friend," a track buoyed as much by Cotton Jenny's longing voice as it is by Schieberl's sparse atmospherics. Throughout, A Picnic with the Hunters flows with remarkable ease considering its seeming scatter.
Reaction to the album thus far has been overwhelmingly positive even prior to its late-January release. Schieberl initially planned to tour Europe for three weeks, but the response to promo packages encouraged him to extend that to two and a half months. It's Schieberl's return to the continent after a mini-tour in 2006, and he's excited to show off what he can do now that he's shaken the jitters he had last time around.
"It was weird going from playing to 20 or 30 people to playing in front of 2,000," he says. "This time I'm a little more prepared for it and will be able to enjoy it more."