Review : Mike Gordon - Moss
PopmattersAs the bassist for Phish, Mike Gordon can always be counted on for musically appropriate playing. Whether its nimble walking bass on a bluegrass cover, popping uptempo funk, or complex compositions where his bass darts in and out among Trey Anastasio’s guitar lines and Page McConnell’s piano, Gordon is highly skilled and very savvy. As a songwriter, his work in the band usually serves as a change of pace from Anastasio’s material. Over the years, he’s written in a lot of genres, from straight-ahead rock to catchy pop to classic country. But his lyrics have always had a certain whimsical peculiarity to them. So it’s no surprise that Moss, his third solo album, doesn’t stray too far from what he’s done in the past.
The album opens with “Can’t Stand Still”, an upbeat pop song driven by skittering drums, active bass, and bright guitar. Gordon sings about, well, it’s unclear exactly what he’s singing about, but the catchy chorus “I can’t stand still / When the drums are marching by / And the sun’s so bright” makes it a great opener. Gordon’s bass dominates the next track, the mid-tempo “Horizon Line”, with a fat, funky figure. Page McConnell’s organ playing adds body to the song, as it does on nearly every track on the album. “Horizon Line” is not as immediately catchy as “Can’t Stand Still”, but the funked-up feel makes it work. Third song “Fire from a Stick” may be the album’s biggest earworm, but because it’s one of those catchy-but-annoying tunes that just won’t go away. The polyrhythmic drums and funky bass don’t work nearly as well here, which is a shame because Gordon’s lyrics actually make a bit of sense on this one. His subject is people who seem to make great art without even trying, and the frustration of regular people who put so much effort into it and don’t even get close.
The rest of Moss goes on with slight variations on Gordon’s formula. There’s generally a funky bassline, some locked-in drumming, tasteful guitar, and organ accompaniments, and Gordon singing weird lyrics to solid melodies. “Babylon Baby” has creative percussion and some of Gordon’s best bass playing going for it. “Flashback” has the kind of low-down funky groove that Phish often attempts and sounds faintly ridiculous doing, and Gordon fares no better on his own. The horn chart on the song is particularly egregious, screechy and poorly arranged. Much better is “The Void”, which makes good use of a celeste and appropriately swirling atmosphere. “Spiral” works for similar reasons, with a bassline that seems to be circling around and around. Both songs bear a strong (but not inescapable) resemblance to Gordon’s Phish song “Round Room”, one of his best compositions. The album-closing “Idea” employs the horn section to much better effect, as Gordon finishes the record out with another pop-oriented song....full text
JambaseMoss comes only two short years after The Green Sparrow, and about half of its songs stem from the same 50-song burst of creativity that seeded that album. Drummers Joe Russo and Doug Belote crop up throughout the album, and other guests include organist Marco Benevento, keyboardist Page McConnell and drummer Jon Fishman.
Anyone who pre-orders Moss on CD or Vinyl via Mike's Online Store or Phish Dry Goodswill receive one of four Limited Edition sketch replications of the original Moss album cover concepts from Mike's Journal - all individually signed by Mike himself. In addition, everyone is automatically entered to win a chance at the Moss Grand Prize: a bona fide 30 minute, private bass lesson with Mike.
Mike will head out on tour for a string of dates, starting November 6 at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA, and ending on November 27 in Boston, MA. Along the way, Mike will hit San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Minneapolis, and other cities. Click here for a full list of dates and take a look at the tour announcement video below....full text
BloggerNot all jam session are bass and drum, but it's a mode I've liked toying with. So this one is me and Joe Russo - I think the same session led to Spiral, Morphing Again, and Babylon Baby. This is an example of being able to hear a bass lick emerge that later is used over and over for the song. After a little bit of playing, I do the mathematically ascending lick (1 12 123 sort of thing, factorial style) that became the six beats per bar verse of Spiral. We decided to leave this one "straight up" (like the Can't Stand Still one) because there is such a floaty feeling created by Joe's mesmerizing drumming, and it's nice just to share the feeling I had while floating the bass on top of that....full text
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