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




Experimental/Post Metal

3.92 | 120 ratings

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usa prog music
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.

usa prog music | 3/5 |


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