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OSI - Office of Strategic Influence  (Limited Edition) CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.91 | 114 ratings

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4 stars I was more influenced by the presence of Steve Wilson and the concept of Kevin Moore on keys than the Portnoy thing (I admit to liking this drummer a great deal from his Transatlantic work but not caring much for DT), and as far as Matheos goes , I had no preconception whatsoever. That was a smart philosophy to adopt because the music expressed here is shrewd, daring and slightly inflammatory, infused by a hard-edged desire to discover new territories (which is why the entire booklet packaging looks like a passport, stamps and all!). "The New Math" is the perfect table setter for the title track/group name "OSI", a brutally rampaging foray into eccentric electric electronica, a cavalcade of steam rolling riffs with contrasting mood shifts and beeps and blurps. They are serious and it shines through the smokey fireworks convincingly! Kevin Moore's metallic synths appear just as appealing and original as with his magnificent Chroma Key work , Sean Malone is a stunning bass Stick player , having made himself quite a reputation with the Gordian Knot saga and toss in a guest vocal from the prickly Wilson and you get a great idea of the proposed ride. "When You're Ready" and "Horseshoes and B-52s" are two shorter pieces that seek out a clearer definition of their musical objective, a harsh sympho- metal that shocks and swoons in constant conspiracy. "Head" kicks off with some Oriental pinging, blending in with colossal rhythm slabs, so heavy and bruising you can hear the wind howling in the background. Pretty cool, really in a more experimental vein than either Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater or Fates Warning and the allusions of Nine Inch Nails or a harsher Depeche Mode are entirely valid. This is a tremendous track with many more to come. The brief "Hello Helicopter" is clever and even pleasant but does not make my rotors whirl! Mainly because "Shutdown" is the expected jewel, where Wilson grabs the mike forcefully and delivers a world class performance, a ten minute classic piece of prog that has all the ingredients, flavors and aromas down pat. A slow blooming edifice of harder Pink Floyd girders, a brutal beat and the dreamiest vocals this side of "Radioactive Toy", loaded with vaporous effects, whispers and screams, a prelude of the bolder Tree style that was brewing at the time (just before "In Absentia"). I bought this album for this song and it does not disappoint. The arrangement is stretched out nicely and has a heavy psychedelic feel that evokes vast horizons and deepest space, Matheos raging constructively on guitar, Portnoy punching all the right holes and Moore coloring the universe. "Dirt from A Holy Place" is a smooth instrumental from Matheos that sounds like the ChromaKey material, bubbling synths colliding with an assortment of electronic effects, the guitar soloing in a more symphonic style (read Hackett/ Latimer/Gilmour), at times playfully suave. Again , its original and different from either prog polar extremes, a satisfying voyage to say the least. "Memory Daydream Lapses" possesses that PTree feel once again, brooding melancholia conveying the apathy of our cynical world (a Wilson fave subject), obtuse lyrics not withstanding. The primarily acoustic "Standby" closes out this interesting disc, stamping this with venerable praise and deserving of a high rating. I have the 2 CD version with adds a full roster of extended pieces, the nearly 9 minute cover of Pink Floyd's classic "Set the Controls For The Heart of the Sun" and the thrilling 17 minute "The Thing That Never Was", both highpoints for this release! It's not a 5 star MUST but close enough to deserve a place on your shelves. The artwork is first rate brilliant and classy. 4 vivid visas
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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