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Sunday, February 23
Album Review: Mike Gordon - Overstep - 2014
Mike Gordon Overstep
On February 25, 2014, Mike Gordon is set to release his fifth studio album, Overstep. Along with many other side projects, Gordon has recorded two albums with acclaimed acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke, performed with the Benevento/Russo Duo, and created his own band called Ramble Dove. He is best known, however, for his work as the bassist, vocalist and founding member of Phish. Gordon is responsible, at least in part, for many of the band’s most well-known songs. His first four solo albums expand upon his involvement in all of these projects and really help you get to know what Mike Gordon is all about. Overstep is no different.
“Ether” has a psychedelic, dissonant intro, reminiscent of some of Pink Floyd’s more experimental works. The drums and bass kick in to create a laid back groove, which is fairly consistent throughout the album. Gordon applies his incredible musicianship and songwriting prowess immediately by introducing many different parts to this tune and not sticking to any traditional verse-chorus structure. He also moves the scale up a step later on in the track, incorporating a sort of tension-and-release tactic.
“Tiny World” is a bit funkier, facilitated by Gordon’s use of his flanger pedal. The chorus has a very happy and catchy tone.
“Jumping” is an acoustic tune with beautiful vocal harmonies. The high-pitched chorus and upbeat major chords create an “up-in-the-clouds” atmosphere.
“Yarmouth Road” has a slow reggae groove. The simplicity of the musicianship coupled with the metaphorical lyrics adds to the smooth ambience of the tune. I really dig the subtle but confident talk box work on the guitar.
“Say Something” keeps the funky, laid back groove going, but introduces some darker, heavier rock guitar than the songs leading up to it.
My favorite part about “Face” is that the verses serve as a build-up. They create lots of tension by using dissonant guitar licks and raising the scale up and up, before releasing with a funky groove that will not fail to get you dancing!
With “Paint,” the bass starts to take more of a lead role. A deep, minor bridge provides a nice transition from the otherwise traditional structure.
“Different World” and “Peel” are both primarily vocal tunes. Nifty acoustic guitar work in “Different World” and gracefully syncopated guitar in “Peel” drive the progression into the end of the album. “Peel” also features a fun accordion part in the outro.
“Long Black Line” features a powerful intro line with strong rock guitar. The lyrics consist of some beautiful imagery that is complimented flawlessly by the instrumentation. The guitar and bass create some short and subtle phasing, which is a very unique trick in musicianship. This one was definitely my personal favorite on the album.
Finally, “Surface” finishes off the album with a feel-good tune, filled with positive vibes.
I was extremely pleased with Overstep. Gordon’s quirky, intriguing lyrics, fascinating imagery, overall positive mood, delightful vocal harmonies, and consistency with the laid back feel make the album a great listening experience. I also really enjoyed hearing that the general simplicity of the songs was complemented by some branching out in song structure and experimentation with scales. It really kept the album engaging throughout its entirety. While I am very happy to see that Phish is back in full swing, I am also excited to see them reaching out and experimenting on their own. Overstep really speaks of all things Mike Gordon and conveys all of the talents that he has brought to the world of music. Here’s to many more Mike!