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

OFFICE OF STRATEGIC INFLUENCE (LIMITED EDITION)

OSI

Experimental/Post Metal


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Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A little heavy for my old ears. Matheos is an underrated guitarist. I really enjoyed the acoustic parts. The group interplay is exciting. Portnoy is a monster drummer. The John Bonham of the new millenium. Kevin Moore creates some great soundscapes and is a competent singer. I was less than happy with Steve Wilsons vocal performance, but I blame the overly heavy tune, not the singer. Some great pieces of music, however, they should have let Malone write a few parts to take advantage of his prowess. I thouht the Bass/Stick parts were mired in the mix and not allowed room to breath.

The cover of "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is one of the better covers I've heard. It keeps the integrity of the original, but adds some OSI flavors to make it unique. My favorite tracks are the softer, more melodic ones; When You're Ready, Head, Hello, Helicopter! and Standby (Looks Like Rain), along with disc two's second cover, neil Young's New Mama.

Even old proggers could find some fun with this disc.

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Send comments to Dan Bobrowski (BETA) | Report this review (#17044)
Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2003 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars One Song's Inspired

Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) is a side project from the Dream Theater stable.

The sound and feel is not generally as heavy as DT, many of the tracks sounding more like Porcupine Tree. Although there appears to be a lot of "space" for the ambient sounds which prevail on the album, most of the tracks are relatively short.

The exception is the long "ShutDOWN", (yes it is written like that) which is co-written by, Steve Wilson of said Porcupine Tree, who also plays on this track. If this song had appeared on "Stupid Dream" it would have fitted right in.

Overall, while the music is pleasant, it is devoid of any real inspiration, particularly in the song writing department. With a bit more development, some of the tracks could have become more appealing, but as they stand there is a tendency towards dullness.

The bonus CD includes an interesting interpretation of Pink Floyd's "Set the controls for the heart of the sun". Also included are a brief throwaway track "New Mama", and superb 17 ½ minute piece called "The thing that never was". The latter is better and more progressive than anything on original album, meaning that anyone considering obtaining the album must go for the double disc edition.

Disappointingly, the packaging for the limited edition is identical to the standard album, with no reference to the additional tracks at all. An enjoyable album, but far from essential.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#17047)
Posted Monday, March 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
arqwave@lycos
5 stars Those who have heard Chroma Key will understand the soul of this record, an strange record that nutres itself from the sounds of sadness and space, clean playing, and great performance; Kevin Moore's voice is something else, in a way like his counterpart Steve Wilson, Matheos matturing every single record and the chance to hear again Shawn Malone playing makes this album a nice thing to have, a must have if you like "sad-prog"

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#17048)
Posted Monday, March 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
robringas@ter
4 stars Someone said this sounds as Porcupine tree: not really exepting the one song steve wilson actualy was involved in. The rest is exactly like that: it all sounds as the ones involved in it. That is: its sounds like Fates warning, with chroma key, and some DT. If you happen to like those three groups you surely will like this one, like I do!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#17050)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
diddy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars What could one expect from this project? Well, a look at the musicians could help. Mike Portnoy, the drummer of Dream Theater, Kevin Moore who also was a member of Dream Theater once but now has his own project running (called Croma Key), Sean Malone the well known Stick player, he also participated in Gordian Knot and Jim Matheos, the guitarist from Fate's Warning. So the main influence should be, refering to the members, metal. Well, that's true but not solely. What you get is a mixture of progressive metal, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree. Maybe it's also important to mention that Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree is also features on this album. He does the vocals for "shutDOWN".

The general sound shows an slight electronic approach due to some featured computer effects and included voices. I think that O.S.I. is quite interesting and worth checking out. Especially if you like the above named bands. In general I'd say that the instrumental songs are slightly better but also the rest is interesting. O.S.I. has a sound wich is not so wide spread, actually I know no other band with a similar sound. As danbo said, the bass is mixed too far in the background but Malones stickplaying could still be heard on several songs. Sometimes he even takes over the melody work for a short time or gets really loud (Dirt from a holy place, The new Math). But most of the time Portnoy's drums seem to drown the bass completely. Portnoy really provides a great performance (as usual) but in general his drumming is too loud on this record. I think it's a pity that the album is so short. The bonus material is interesting. A cover version of Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the heart of the sun" and a 17 minutes instrumental wich features short passages of the original songs of the regular album, quite cool. The video footage is ok but gets boring after some time. The problem is that Portnoy is a freak of filming and taping his sessions, you get to see mostly him recording his drum parts...

So O.S.I. is an interesting project and I reall liked it but I think 3 stars are the perfect rating. 4 Stars would be too much for this rather short pleasure. If you like Dream Theater, Chroma Key, Porcupine Tree or Pink Floyd you should check out O.S.I. it's no waste of money but there are better bands and projects, also by the featured artists. IF you want to buy this album take the limited edition because it provides bonus tracks, the normal album is, like mentioned above, rather short.

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Send comments to diddy (BETA) | Report this review (#17051)
Posted Saturday, August 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's always been a nice thing to see members of bands united to form a project like this first album of OSI. It's a collaborative effort by Jim Matheos (the mastermind of FATES WARNING), Kevin Moore (CHROMA KEY, ex DREAM THEATER), Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER) and Sean Malone - Gordian Knot. The guest musician was Steven Wilson of PORCUPINE TREE, who also co-writes and sings one track ShutDOWN. Well, looking at the contributors you might guess how the music would look like. I thought that it would be a sort of prog metal vein. But when I listened to it the first time - its music is more towards Fates Warning and Porcupine Tree.

The album starts off with an energetic track "The New Math (What He Said)" (Matheos) that reminds me clearly to Dream Theater's "The Great Debate" of "Six Degree of Inner Turbulence" album - especially on the rhythm and nuances. Melody and structure was the two are of course different. But some music passages are similar. Observe the rhythm and driving bass line. It continues to second track "OSI" (Matheos/Moore) nicely. Again, it's another rocking track. "When You're Ready" (Matheos / Moore) is my favorite track performed in a psychedelic style. I love the acoustic guitar rhythm and fills. The music is atmospheric here. Some inclusion of effects sounds good on my ears. "Horseshoes And B-52s" (Matheos / Moore) is an instrumental track that features sound effects - there are some passages influenced by Porcupine Tree. The intro part with repeated riffs and rhythm sound boring to my personal taste.

"Head" (Matheos / Moore) demonstrates some influence of eastern music at its intro. It's an interesting track in the vein of Porcupine Tree. "Hello, Helicopter!" (Matheos / Moore) is a loosely structured song with unclear direction - it fails to provide musical coherence, I would say. The opening part with acoustic guitar and industrial voice reminds me to Procupine Tree "Stupid Dream" album. "ShutDOWN" (Matheos / Wilson) is of course in Porcupine Tree vein as Steven Wilson contributed in writing and took vocal shot. It's the longest and the best track of this album even though Steve Wilson does not perform his best singing style; it's probably mixing issue instead of voice quality. Porcupine Tree lovers would definitely love this tune.

"Dirt From A Holy Place" (Matheos) starts with an ambient keyboard solo and sampling. The music then flows in slow / moderate tempo with guitar and keyboard solos. "Memory Daydreams Lapses" (Matheos / Moore) is a keyboard exploration part with some beat sampling / sequencing. "Standby (Looks Like Rain)" (Matheos / Moore) is a mediocre tract that doesn't attract me except its Porcupine Tree nuances.

My CD is a Limited Edition with three bonus tracks: "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" (by Roger Waters) - it's good to listen a Pink Floyd's repertoire played in different style; "New Mama" (Young) and "The Thing That Never Was" (Matheos) - en though the intro part is long with ambient style, but when music enters, it starts to rock. It's an excellent track to enjoy and very uplifting. One of my favorites.

Overall, it's a good prog album to have. Keep on Progging!!! GW, Indonesia.

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#17053)
Posted Wednesday, January 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another progressive rock super group has formed, OSI. "Office Of Strategic Influence" sounds like a combination of PORCUPINE TREE and The FLOWER KINGS. Steven Wilson of PT actually is the guest singer on the track "ShutDOWN" (notice the emphasis on the word "down"), which makes my observation valid and obvious to the listener familiar with the bands I have mentioned.

This is everything one would expect from this group of established prog-rockers, well, almost. The sounds consist of a mixture of hard driving prog-metal and ethereal PINK FLOYD influenced tracks. The combination will certainly be both pleasing and enjoyable for a large cross section of progressive rock listeners.

"ShutDOWN" is a prolific track figuratively and musically. The words carry a very strong message to the listener, such as: "Shut down your body, shut down your skin, shutdown your kisses, shutdown within." These words continually come at you throughout the song, advising you to shutdown all of your senses or pay the consequences. It sounds as if a despot is speaking to you, which I find interesting considering world events currently. The other track that caught my ear and challenged my senses was "Standby (Looks Like Rain)," which is an exceptional piece of music, is simply mesmerizing. It has an atmospheric texture that sucked me in and then owned me after only a few minutes into the track.

At the end of the disc, there is a bonus video available for viewing as well. Shot in black and white, it is confusing and disturbing, and I am not sure what it all meant. It reminded me of a video that was on the PORCUPINE TREE album @In Absentia@. To be honest, there were too many comparisons to PT on this album; just the same, I loved it. Former DREAM THEATER keyboard player Kevin Moore provides the vocal treatments, which I found disappointing with the overuse of electronics and the camouflaging of his voice. Then at times he was allowed to bring forth his true essence, albeit briefly, hence I was reminded of Sweden's FLOWER KINGS. There were consistencies that I did not like and inconsistencies that I did, it sounds weird but that was my own personal perception of the album. I hope next time out, if there actually is a next time, Moore's vocals stand alone to resonate naturally around the music and their sound originates by their own design without any outside influences, like Steve Wilson, who seemed to set the tone for the entire recording. There are clips from TV and radio broadcasts used in the songs as well, mostly unintelligible, except for a Dan Rather's snippet, which provided yet another distraction from the music.

With the talent available on this recording, on a scale of 1 to 10 it could have easily been a 10. I think it was a seven with room for improvement and some changes. Although I really did enjoy it, I felt it could have been better. Regardless of my criticisms, I am sure hard-core prog-heads will get off on this album.

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#17054)
Posted Friday, January 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
semismart
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Two years ago, when I first got Office of Strategic Influence, knowing that it was a side project of Dream Theater's long time drummer, Mike Portny and former DT Keyboardist (now with Chroma Key) Kevin Moore and not being particularly fond of other such side projects, I set it aside while I listened to more promising selections only to forget about it. Sure I came across it from time to time but there was always something else to listen to first. Well finally after two years I have finally discovered OSI and have felt foolish for the last two weeks.

OSI - Office of Strategic Influence's record company is IOM - Inside Out Music and they seem to provide very nice packaging on occasion. With the Limited Edition OSI release you get a hardbound twenty page digi-book with slips for the two enclosed CDs. It is supposed to resemble a passport and the included pages have various stamps on the lyrics pages.

Ah, the Music!

As for the music, it is a wonderful confluence of murky atmospheric progressive rock and driving boisterous progressive heavy metal. Sounds scary doesn't it? Well don't worry, it's wonderful. In addition to Portny and Moore, we have Fates Warning Guitarist, Jim Matheos, whose idea it was for this production, Bassist, Sean Malone (Gordian Knot, Chroma Key) and guest singer Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson on track seven - "Shutdown". Wilson also wrote the lyrics for the unique "Shutdown", which comprises both styles in the same song All outer vocals were competently handled by Moore. Not surprisingly, three of the ten songs on disc 1 are instrumentals and vocals are somewhat sparse in the others (except "Shutdown"). On disc 2 two of the three songs are virtual instrumentals. On many of the songs there are voice samples, some from famous people like Dan Rather and President Bush. On "New Mama" on disc two there are several clips of dialogue from "Rambo - First Blood". Special effects are also utilized in some songs, though sparingly.

Highlight Songs

"The New Math" (instrumental) For me "The New Math" has a strong Dream Theater flavor. Not surprising considering the roots of the drummer and keyboard player. This is Heavy Progressive Metal plain and simple. This song has voice samples of Dan Rather throughout and doesn't miss a beat as it segues into "OSI", the same song, same melody, the same beat but with light vocals added. In fact Moore's vocals are so mellow and lacking emotion that they remind me of Steve Miller.

"Head" starts out fairly mild, though with heavy guitar accents but it also has an industrial essence and does in fact sound like a Tool or Deadsoul Tribe song throughout. It goes back and forth then ends as it starts.

"Shutdown" This ten plus minute number is the song that Steve Wilson guests on. It resembles "Head" somewhat with the first half is strongly atmospheric and mellow with a couple heavy guitar interludes. Wilson's vocals are certainly more emotive than Moores and Moores backs the vocals with melancholy synth harmonies. The second half is like a different song with heavy Tool sounding guitars and bass, drums too in a semi Eastern refrain!

Track List Disc Two 11. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (Bonus Track) ***** 12. New Mama (Bonus Track) **** 13. The Thing That Never Was (Bonus Track) *****

Highlight Songs

"Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" Yes I know, this nine minute track sounds awfully Floydian. Know why? It was written by Roger Waters and originally recorded by Pink Floyd in 1979. I would call this space rock in the style of Hawkwind but with some obvious Middle Eastern Seasoning. A very ethereal moody piece.

"The Thing That Never Was" is a seventeen minute Progressive masterpiece. It is an instrumental and there is enough variety to keep it interesting the whole way. It begins with a lone acoustic leading to a psychedelic/organ type keyboard intro into a Heavy Rhythm - Guitar/Bass/drum - tirade reminiscent of DT's "6:00" leading into about five minutes of superb progressive metal, breaking off @ the seven minute mark for a dose of a extremely pleasant ethereal almost bell sounding interlude per Moore's Keyboards. At the twelve minute mark we're back to the progressive metal mode and the explosive finale.

Conclusion

If you don't buy the Limited Edition version of this you don't get the twenty eight minute killer bonus disc with three great Progressive songs plus a twenty minute behind the scenes video documentary. Usually I don't feel bonus tracks or bonus CDs are worth while but this one is a Grande exception. You've got to fly Limited Edition on this'un.

Yes there a re a couple so so track but the preponderance of the music is exciting and so fresh that one overlooks an itsy bit of mediocrity. If You are a Progressive rock fanatic or a progressive metal aficionado, this is an essential album. It's a lttle of what your used to but it's also way different. I haven't dealt with the lyrics much because in a way they are insignificant to the music. They tend to deal with corruption and incompetence in government. Below are sample lyrics for "OSI" and "Shutdown"

"OSI" "Hate it when the truth unravels hate it when we don't get a spin hate it when the enemy travels 'cause it's awfully un-american."

"Shutdown" "shutDOWN your body shutDOWN your skin. shutDOWN your kisses shutDOWN within. shutDOWN your feelings shutDOWN your tongue. shutDOWN your dreaming mind shutDOWN your love."

"I gave a promise but it's just not enough for you. I lied and cheated and betrayed all my trust for you. I ripped my heart out threw it down on the bed for you. I crawled away and hid in shadows and dust for your love. "

Trust me on this, if you like Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, David Sylvian, Radiohead, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Vanden Plas, Pain Of Salvation, Anathema, Symphony X, DGM, Dreamscape, Threshold even Tool you most likely will OSI as well.

Bonus Disc "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is a Pink Floyd cover performed by Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy. "New Mama" is a Neil Young cover performed by Kevin Moore. "The Thing That Never Was" is the original "Looks Like Rain" demo performed by Jim Matheos and Mike Portnoy.

The Multimedia Section is approximately 19 minutes long and includes a concept piece directed and edited by Kevin Moore for "Horsehoes and B-52s" as well as two separate documentary style clips shot at Carriage House Studios during the recording of the album.

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Send comments to semismart (BETA) | Report this review (#17057)
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I dislike Dreal theater and metal a lot. but mike portnoy is really a progressive fanatic. after the ultra classic transatlantic, he explore the real metal progressive O.S.I is really great. complexity of progressive and powerful of metal without unbearing vocals, demonstrative guitars with some good electronic stuff . i like kevin morre vocals , no very good voice, but totally do for this music. O.P

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Send comments to anesthésie (BETA) | Report this review (#17058)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
el_Sethro@hot
4 stars I bought this album completely on a whim - I had heard none of the tracks, but had heard about it (that it was another one of Mike Portnoy's side-projects). I payed almost 45$ (CAN) for it, and though I don't think it was quite worth that much, I don't regret it one bit.

This album's style was quite alien to me - almost atmospheric, soft prog metal, but I loved it from the first track. the songs range from the heavier "ShutDOWN" to the softer final track, guitar-strumming "Standby". The extra disk isn't too outstanding, but there's some nice extra videos on it, and I really liked Set The Controls For The Heard Of The Sun, as well as New Mama (including dubbs from "Rambo"!). the album is physically very appealing too; they did a great job on the artwork and layout.

Though Mike Portnoy was the reason I bought the album, I did not mind that it was very unlike Dream Theater. it also got me interestd in Kevin Moore's current project, Chroma Key, as well as Porcupine Tree, now one of my favorite bands of all time.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#36795)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
geeman7@hotma
4 stars when i get up in the morning to go to work and that i feel this day will not be the one(you know, ridding the bloody jubilee line never be a nice thing) i get my minidisc and just let myself getting lost for about 35mn with this guys.... its just that everything is cleverly blended, even the fact that mike's drum is cut and that he accept it is incredible... the job on bass is very nice as well and the tricky simplicity apparence show a very mature production and musicianship... well maybe a second album b4 2006 will be great< also the pink floyd reprise is absolutly perfect thats is what a reprise should be like not too far but not too close from the original... it is a very good album of "metal prog" and thats all i have to say about it.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#40316)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
rojo7@frisurf
3 stars An album that is different from DREAM THEATER although PORTNOY'S drumming is easy to recognise. The album is, as it seems to me, more of a work by the keyboardist KEVIN MOORE. This might have been the musical direction that DREAM THEATER would had taken if MOORE still had been in that band with his influence. (I'm glad they didn't). STEVEN WILSON from PORCUPINE TREE sings on one of the tracks, but I believe he had more to say when this album was made. Much of the same atmosphere and changing moods PORCUPINE TREE has on their albums can be retrieved here. It's an exciting album but definitive not a must have.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#60233)
Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
horza
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Stellar line-up composed of Jim Matheos (Fates Warning guitarist), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater drummer), Kevin Moore (Chroma Key,ex-Dream Theater keyboards) and Sean Malone (Gordian Knot bassist) - and if that was'nt enough it also features Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson as guest vocalist on the track 'ShutDOWN' - and NO that was'nt a 'cap lock' moment.

Track one 'The New Math (What He Said)' opens with some radio/movie chatter before launching into the song proper - and it has to be said that until now I had'nt appreciated what a good guitarist Matheos is, and how much of the Fates' sound is down to him.The drumming is top notch as expected and in conjunction the bass makes up an excellent rhythm section.We segue into track two 'OSI' and its a mid-tempo song which has a catchy hook to it. Track three is 'When You're Ready', a slowish one which isn't that great in my opinion I have to say.'Horseshoe's and B52's' comes next and its a fairly good instrumental - again NOT outstanding though. The next track is 'Head'and it finds us in Fates' mode again with a flavour of DT thrown in, it'll please fans of both bands I'm pretty sure. 'Hello Helicopter!' opens a little like Floyd with acoustic guitar and radio on the background, its a solid enough song with no obvious highlights.

Track seven is the ten and a half minute long 'ShutDOWN' featuring the aforementioned Steven Wilson on vocals. Its a pretty atmospheric track, moody and VERY Porcupine Tree-like. It gains momentum near the end and is pretty powerful on the whole. Next up is 'Dirt From a Holy Place', a pretty sombre piece. 'Memory Daydreams Lapses' follows and its a slow builder which....does'nt really....build. 'Standby (Looks Like Rain)' is just over two minutes long and is definitely influenced by Pink Floyd in acoustic mode. Which is a coincidence because disc two in this set opens with a Pink Floyd cover 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun'. It's a pretty good version too. Track two on the second disc is 'New Mama' - a two and a half minute song which features some dialogue from the movie Rambo (bizarre). Lastly we have 'The Thing That Never Was' which is over seventeen minutes long. Its a complex song and has passages which echo some of the themes present throughout the album. A classic prog song it has to be said.

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Send comments to horza (BETA) | Report this review (#63678)
Posted Saturday, January 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars CAN I CLASSIFY THIS AS EXPERIMENTAL / PSYCHEDELIC METAL??

O.S.I is a Mike Portnoy (DT) side project, featuring Kevin Moore (ex Dream Theater, Chroma Key), Jim Matheos (Porcupine Tree) and Sean Malone, a "supergroup". I must say I expected a Dream Theater - Porcupine Tree sound but what I heard is a very experimental sound, combining metal, acoustic and effects parts. Is not an easy album to get into: I've listened to it around 20 times to enjoy (not so much) it. Some times it gets boring, very boring, maybe it's because I'm not accustomed with this kind of sound. The quality of the recording is excellent. I didn't really ENJOY (with capital leter) any of the tracks. Also, seems like during the album, I couidn't hear concluded ideas, it's not full of creativity. I can expect much more from this supreb musicians.

Well, "The new math (what he said)" is used like an intro to the album. This one has a very DT sound. Then keeps heavy with "O.S.I" with overdistorted guitars, followed the acoustic "When you're ready", which is nice, and a bit depressing. Then goes "Horseshoes and B-52s" (why that title?) is an instrumental with many sound effects, but it's too much repetitive (not concluded) and finishes boring me. "Head" is a track in the Porcupine Tree vein. "Hello, helicopter!" is an almost acoustic song with industrial and repetitive voice that reminds me of electronic music, but it's a good track. Then comes "ShotDOWN" featuring as a guest Steven Wilson of PT, which has a similar voice to Moore.This is a better song than the previous ones, starts experimenting with slow tempo (doom metal) on the first part and then comes a killing metal riff that combined with drums makes you headbang and becomes more violent. "Dirt from a holy place" is the best one of the album, an instrumental dark song, that starts experimenting quietly with a nice guitar solo (the only one on the album) and the piano introduces a nice melody that then all the instrument do and gives you a terror climax, wwwwaaaahhhhh!!!! "Memory daydreams lapses" is the most boring song of the CD : Why repeat the same effect all the time?? "Stand by (looks like rain)" is a nice acoustic, that would be so much better if it were longer.

On disc two there are spme bonus tracks "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is a Pink Floyd cover from "Echoes" performed by Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy which is well done and the psychedelic climax goes well with whe band sound. Here I like very much the percusion part. "New Mama" is a Neil Young cover performed by Kevin Moore full of affects. "The Thing That Never Was" is the original "Looks Like Rain" demo, but it's basically an instrumental medley of the first tracks of the album.

Best songs: "Dirt from a holy place", "ShutDOWN", "Standby (looks like rain)" and "Set the controls for the heart of the sun"

Overall, it's a good but non-essential album, reccomendable if you like experimental and psychedelic sound, combined with metal. If you're expecting a DT sound maybe you'll be dissapointed.

Rating: 3/5

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Send comments to Barla (BETA) | Report this review (#72319)
Posted Sunday, March 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've been a huge fan of Mike Portnoy side projects and always wanted to know what OSI was like. luckily enough i was able to get their debut album but more importantly i got the special edition of the debut. At first listen i was kinda confused i guess you could say about how experimental each song was but now that i've given it some time and though i love it especially the second disc. Basically we got some very fine musicians with Kevin Moore a former bandmate of Dream Theater who i've always been a fan of his early work with DT but this was different for me as Kevin Moore's style of this Cd was alot of loops, samples, and even some neat techno like stuff. At first i didn't like it that much but now that i've given it some time its not that bad in fact Kevin does some groovy sections here. In fact its weird i don't like Chroma Key but the work that he does with this band is really good i guess its cause we have real drums, guitar, etc. on this disc. Then you have another one of my favorite guitar players Jim Matheos the metal monster from the great Fates Warning. Here you kinda have a laid back version of Jim sure you have his great riffs and cool solos but you also have some programming work by Jim as well as some great acoustic work by Jim. Then you have the rhythm section of Mike Portnoy who always and has been known to give a great performance and he does that in this album but not only displaying some outrageous moves but in some tracks does well by play more of a groove rock drummer which to me is just fine he still is the best prog metal drummer. Sean Malone also does a great job its just at time i can't hear him but he does great with THE NEW MATH (WHAT HE SAID) and OSI. Steven Wilson also does guest vocals for SHUTDOWN which is a great epic and he really does bring some great porcupine tree likeness to the song. Overall all the songs display something great as they display some heaviness and also some cool groovy beats and real catchy lyrics. Then you have the second disc which i say could have been better but there is some good stuff. the pink floyd and neil young covers didn't really catch my eye but THE THING THAT NEVER WAS is really good i just wish this song was on the original disc. Anyway overall another great side project by Mike Portnoy even though Jim Matheos decided to make it become his baby but still if you like experimental metal like stuff this is the disc for you.

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Send comments to Progdrummer05 (BETA) | Report this review (#76869)
Posted Monday, May 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Whether you hear the limted Edition or the original your not missing anything, and your not over purchasing anything. I finally had the privilage of hearing the few extra tracks and I'd have to say that if your desperate to hear them, you won't be disapointed, their good. The Thing that Never was is pretty much the best, it's super good as a 17 minute instrumental. I gave it 4 stars for that reason, but whether you have the limited or regular, it doesn't matter you still get the good taste of OSI that is just incredible. If you have regular, see if you can hear The Thing That Never Was, its great, as for the other few, meh, their good, but nothing to jump the gun over. 4/5, that's a good amount I'd have to say!

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Send comments to Xeroth (BETA) | Report this review (#93257)
Posted Tuesday, October 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I knew this would be impossible not to like when some of my very favourite musicians were involved in this project. This is really Jim Matheos and Kevin Moore's baby with Mike Portnoy and Sean Malone also helping out in a big way. Mike Portnoy is the one who probably impresses me the most on this release. For the record I do like the next release "Free" a little better then this one (unlike the majority) mainly because of Joey Vera's( FATES WARNING) bass playing. This album is really a concept record with the U.S. goverment's policies being center stage. As far as the sound of the band goes they remind me of what CHROMA KEY would sound like if Kevin decided to add a lot of heaviness to it. One of the coolest things i've ever seen in music is seeing Steven Wilson and Jim Matheos' names linked together as the composers of "ShutDOWN". They are two of my all time favourite musicians so this collaboration is like a dream come true for me. I should mention the band thanks Daniel Gildenlow in the liner notes.

"The New Math (what he said)" is a heavy instrumental with a lot of samples added mostly Dan Rather news clips that are rather (haha) annoying. The drumming really stands out for me. Great tune ! This song blends right into "OSI" as things get a little tamer with Kevin's singing bringing to mind CHROMA KEY right away. Heavy riffs follow bringing about a nice contrast between the heavy and subtle with Kevin's reserved vocals. "When Your Ready" is a melancholic tune with Kevin's mournful vocals.There is really no instrumental outbreaks in this one it's all about the atmosphere. "Horseshoes And B-52's" is one of my favourite tracks, this is a great, great instrumental. It's spacey to open then it turns intense for about 2 minutes until it becomes almost pastoral before the heaviness comes back. Amazing drumming on this one. "Head" simply rocks thanks to Jim who serves up some heavy slabs of guitar for our enjoyment. Electronics to open and the mood changes often.This would have fit well on "Free". "Hello, Helicopter !" is a fairly mellow tune with Kevin's vocals, acoustic guitar and samples. Cool song.

"ShutDOWN" is Steven Wilson's baby, as he wrote it and sings on it.This is my favourite from the first disc. Powerful atmosphere to open as sampled words come in before it kicks in heavily before 1 1/2 minutes. Steven comes in vocally after 2 minutes.The contrasts between the heavy and atmospheric continue. There is a ripping guitar solo from Matheos after 5 minutes followed by Steven's great vocals until it all hits the fan again. Incredible song. "Dirt From A Holy Place" is spacey to open before a beat comes in. A fuller sound follows. A nice heavy rhythm 3 1/2 minutes in with piano. A very good instrumental. "Memory Daydreams Lapses" is probably the track I like the least although I like the power before 2 minutes and after 4 minutes. "Standby (looks like rain)" is a song I like a lot, it's a little more uplifting with some samples.The bonus disc features a PINK FLOYD classic "Set The Controls For the Heart Of the Sun" and it's pretty faithful to the original, although the samples get in the way, including more from President Bush. "New Mama" is a Neil Young tune that is well done, with samples from the "Rambo III" movie. The final song "The Thing That Never Was" is in my opinion the best song on this whole recording. It's an instrumental that was the original "Looks Like Rain" demo.This song is such a trip ! It really shows the talents of Portnoy and Matheos.

I highly recommend this record especially to you CHROMA KEY fans.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#116337)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What a great album from former Dream Theater keyboarder Kevin Moore ( Now Chroma Key), Jim Matheos from Fates Warning, Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater and Sean Malone from Cynic/ Gordian Knot.

The music is a mix of mostly Chroma Key and newer Fates Warning. If you like the guitar sound and riffs on Fates Warning´s Disconnected mixed with the more ambient mood of Chroma Key you just gotta love OSI´s debut album Office of Strategic Influence. Kevin Moore sings on most of the songs with his mellow and nice vocals. Some say his vocals are indifferent and leaves them cold, but I really like them and even though they can seem emotionless, I think they suit the music well. Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree guests on the song ShutDOWN with his good vocals.

Needless to say that the musicians are outstanding. The production is very good. The songs are very well composed and very emotional even though there are some really heavy parts too. Songs like The New Math (What He Said) and OSI are pretty heavy songs but I think these two songs which are the first songs on the album are the most heavy songs here, so listen a little further if this puts you off.

The bonus disc is very good too. The first song is a cover of Pink Floyd´s Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun which is great. The second song is New Mama which is a really emotional song where Kevin Moore sings some great lines. It´s essentially a Chroma Key song in my ears, but it´s a great addition to this album. The last bonus track is The Thing That Never Was which is an instrumental 17 minute+ song which is a mix of the different themes from the regular CD. It´s pretty good.

It´s almost a masterpiece, but not quite. 4 stars will be my rating.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#160786)
Posted Monday, February 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I went into this album with three things in mind. I'm a fan of Dream Theater, I'm a fan of Fates Warning, and I'm a fan of Chroma Key. OSI is the perfect combination of all three. Mike Portnoy's crazy drum beats work with Jim Matheos' unique riffs and Kevin Moore's eerie ambience to create a great piece of experimental Metal music.

Opening track 'The New Math (What He Said)' is a great example of what to expect on this album, lush guitar riffs and powerful drumming make each song on this record something to remember, and Kevin Moore's vocals (though he's no James LaBrie) really suits this style of music.

The bonus disc is pretty good as well, considering how most bonus discs are usually excuses to re-release an album for a higher price. While 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' and 'New Mama' are both nice little ambient pieces, the real gem is 'The Thing that Never Was', a 17 minute instrumental that comprises of all the best parts of the album. A pretty decent track for what it is.

Also included is two bonus videos, a video for 'Horseshoes and B-52's' and a short documentary. In all fairness CD's that come with videos aren't really too exciting these days since you can pretty much find anything on the internet, however, it's still a cool little package.

Overall this is a good album for fans of more experimental music. I think people who like any of these members' respective bands will enjoy this. If you can, go for the limited edition version, as the bonus disc really is a nice extra.

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Send comments to Valarius (BETA) | Report this review (#215708)
Posted Thursday, May 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
jampa17
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Good enough to keep on check....

com'on.... give you a chance to try something new, fresh, original and atmospheric... Maybe some people could come with a Dream Theater or Fates Warning standards, these is not what you expect... This is some kind of electronic music meets metal with a few prog elements... but sure it is outstanding...

The songs are really into the Jim Matheos style... while Kevin Moore chooses some riffs and ideas and arrange it to make different pieces of a whole -"The thing that never was" is the original demo from Matheos ideas that Moore chop and structure here and there-... So for the first try they manages to do something very entertaning and interesting for better things yet to come... their 3rd album is quite better... well balanced...

Well, the album is great... is fresh and some of you will be delight by Portnoy performance, while I really find that the interesting thing about this music is the merge of electronic paths and patches with the heavy -and some really beautiful acoustic- guitars...

supposed to be a concept album... is not like you cannot understand what is going on if you don't listen to the complete piece.. no... you can skip some songs depending on the mood you have... 'cause there are really sad sad songs, and some though and cynicall vibe type of songs... so is better to be prepared to a journey through different emotions...

While the general piece is heavy with well written guitar riffs... the acoustic songs are really the deal here... refreshing all the saturated atmosphere of the album... I love "Hello Helicopter" and "Stand By (looks like rain)"... what a marvelous song to end up this journey... you really feels the rain and the cold outside, while you feel like your'e alone over the sea.. that's the way I feel it... and that's why listen to music.. right...?? to feel something unique and these sure achieve it...

don't like too much the Steven Wilson collaboration... but still works for the metal prog lovers... and the special edition has three very interesting songs... don't buy the regular edition... sure it worth the extra dollars... Get it with a mind free... and you'll be satisfied... sure I was... and still I am...!!!

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Send comments to jampa17 (BETA) | Report this review (#225086)
Posted Wednesday, July 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I really need to rate this album for two reasons: First, I'm a great fan of this band since their beginning, and in that time I still wasn't a prog music fan, but I feel now very influenced by the prog music, and specially for this group. Second, and most important, since the release until now although I never tire of listen this album, and it could pass many many years I'll still listening. I understand that there's many guys in this site who thinks that the first OSI album, and even OSI in general enters on the category of "Good, but not essential", but I think that is because this people consider that only the Old-School (Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yes, and company) could enter in the category of masterpiece. That's all I have to say... one more thing, if you're looking for fresh and new music, off the comercial and conventionsl, I strongly recommended to you to start with OSI's debut album.

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Send comments to kchtcr (BETA) | Report this review (#234145)
Posted Saturday, August 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, I first picked up this album because I am a fan of old school (and new school) Dream Theater. I also had one Fates Warning album: No Exit. I wan't familiar Jim Matheos's work other than that one album, and I hadn't really listened to Chroma Key. I was expecting a prog metal supergroup that would attack my brain with a gauntlet of technical, musical .

Thank goodness my expectations were not met.

OSI is a very unique "band", and this, to me, is their finest work.

Kevin Moore's presence is evident on the opening seconds of the album, with electronic sounds and sampled sound snippets. The opener, a flurry of notes and samples called "The New Math (What He Said)" serves as an excellent introduction to not only the band, but also the next song, "OSI", a sedate rocker with a very nice strut and a very cool groove. A nice way to open the album.

The next track, "When You're Ready", is a weak spot on the album to me. It is haunting and pulsating, with a nice acoustic guitar part, but something (or everything) about it seems to make me lose patience with it. Perhaps this is due to Kevin Moore's vocals. His "robotic" vocals are a main point of OSI detractors. His singing fits the music perfectly, but it is not everyone's cup of tea.

Next is an instrumental, "Horseshoes and B-52s". This song is centered around a strong bass riff. It has a very cool groove to it, and I tend to get lost in it. Very hypnotic, very cool.

The next track is entitled "Head". It is one of my favorites on the album, due to Matheos's incredible riff that serves as the basis for the song. A simple, drop D affair, this song has a groove to be reckoned with. Nice, mellow sections are coupled next to deliciously heavy sections without ever changing the feel of the song. This creates a unique dynamic with OSI that I really enjoy. There's always a surprise around the corner, but it stays in the context of a simple song. The chorus has an eastern feel to it. An all-around excellent song, to me.

Then comes "Hello, Helicopter!". This song took a long time to grow on me, but it eventually came to be one of my favorites. A nice, upbeat, acoustic song. This is one song in particular where Moore's vocals really fit. There is a melancholy feel to them that fits the song nearly perfectly. A nice, upbeat song on the album with some very cool drumming from Mr. Mike Portnoy.

And now we come to "shutDOWN". What a treat. Kevin Moore, Jim Matheos, Mike Portnoy....and now Steven Wilson. My personal favorite song on the album. It's a haunting song that really reminds me of Porcupine Tree's slower, longer songs, such as "Russia on Ice" (and no, not just because Mr. Wilson sings on it). The main riff is an evil-sounding, almost Black Sabbath sort of thing. And just when you think you've heard the song, it speeds up and gets more angry. Wilson's vocals fit perfectly, and in fact sound a bit like Moore's on this song. It is one of the darkest songs out there, and it is the highlight of the album to me.

"Dirt From A Holy Place" is a good instrumental with some nice, evil riffing and a haunting keyboard melody. Unlike the rest of the album, for whatever reason, I find this song repetitive. A few excellent riffs make up for this, however. It's a solid song, but no highlight.

Then comes "Memory Daydreams Lapses", which has yet to catch my attention, quite honestly. A Kevin Moore-driven song, I really find it boring, honestly. A low point of the album.

The album closer, "Standby (Looks Like Rain)" really is a nice note to end on. It's another acuostic guitar-driven song with a nice, almost melancholy melody from Kevin Moore. It seems to end out of nowhere, and leave you hanging, which I quite like.

In review, OSI is NOT the mix of Moore, Matheos and Portnoy that one might expect. It reminds me of Porcupine Tree, probably because of the dark tint the entire album has. This album is full of wonderful riffs and interesting keycraft. The drumming is also a strong point. There is nothing here to remind you that Mike Portnoy is sitting behind the kit, which, in my opinion, is a good thing. This is not a barrage of notes, but rather, it takes a few really good notes and arranges them in an interesting way. I highly suggest for the fan of Porcupine Tree, Tool, and perhaps even Pain of Salvation and Riverside.

4 stars for this unique side project.

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Send comments to Tarquin Underspoon (BETA) | Report this review (#238753)
Posted Saturday, September 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
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

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#267394)
Posted Monday, February 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars The special edition of OSI's debut adds a techno-trippy cover of Pink Floyd's Set the Controls For The Heart of The Sun. Interesting but inferior to all versions I've heard from Floyd and Roger Waters.

New Mama is the odd one out. It's a Neil Young cover with harmonic vocals that make it sound like Pure Reason Revolution, a band still non-existing around that time. Again it's interesting but not really overwhelming.

The last bonus is The Thing That Never Was, an obvious Metallica pun. It's a 17 minute instrumental ride through the riffs of the main album. Even the sequence in which the pieces are linked is the same as the running order on the album. Without the vocals something is missing here but still it's a great listen.

Interesting edition but nothing essential to spend extra money on. Apart from the beautiful artwork that is.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#281766)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars With the recent shocking departure of Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater, it seems somehow apt that one of his numerous side projects should benefit from a re-release, in this case the debut from OSI, originally released in 2003.

It's a common misconception that OSI was a project put together through Portnoy's desire to work with his former Dream Theater cohort, keyboardist Kevin Moore, but in reality it was the brainchild of Fate's Warning guitarist Jim Matheos.

Matheos recruited Portnoy to work on some prog metal ideas he had stored away, and only then did Moore jump on board, bringing with him a more industrial / ambient influence. Moore's presence thus helped create a distinct identity for OSI, one that borrowed from numerous sources and provided them with a relatively unique sound.

The result is an album full of dynamic, interesting offerings. The straight-ahead prog metal of opener "The New Math (what he said)" gives the listener a false sense of what's to come, as by the time Kevin Moore's simple, melancholic but effective vocals kick in on the next (title) track, it's apparent that you're entering a musical twilight zone. "When You're Ready", "Hello, Helicopter!" and "Standby (looks like rain)" ? OSI obviously likes song titles with brackets - highlight Matheos' acoustic, song-based prowess, whilst Moore's love of sound- scaping comes to the fore on the new-age "Dirt From A Holy Place". Portnoy isn't forgotten either, proving his ability for subtlety on the ten-minute "shutDOWN", the album's centrepiece featuring Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson on vocals. (In fact much of the album's diversity is reminiscent of Wilson's approach to writing, never resting on one style whilst retaining an inherent identity).

However, it's when the three musicians' styles and influences are blended equally that OSI become most accessible, the best examples being "Head" and the aforementioned title track. A staccato mix of the heavy and atmospheric, underpinned by Portnoy's driving rhythms and Moore's layered keys, both songs represent a tour-de-force of collaborative composition, providing the cement around which OSI could stretch their musical legs.

This re-release also includes the additional material originally only available on the special edition version ? three additional tracks and three videos, the highlight of which is a Portnoy / Moore take on Pink Floyd's "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun."

Jim Matheos and Kevin Moore did go on to release a second OSI album, Free, in 2006 and a third Blood in 2009, but it didn't have quite the impact as the debut. In summary, this is a welcome reminder of a class act from classy musicians, proving their versatility - and that life after Dream Theater could prove musically very rewarding for a certain Mr. P.

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Send comments to usa prog music (BETA) | Report this review (#381621)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2011 | Review Permalink

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