Any Game Theory fan who bought the 1990 career retrospective Tinker to Evers to Chance (Selected Highlights 1982-1989) knows that Scott Miller formed a fresh edition of the band after the lineup that recorded 1988's Two Steps from the Middle Ages fell apart, even recording new versions of two early GT tracks for the collection. However, what happened after that has been a mystery to most followers of Miller and his music; little evidence of the activities of the last days of Game Theory surfaced, and none seemed forthcoming. That abruptly changed with the 2020 release of Across the Barrier of Sound: Postscript, an anthology that brings together studio recordings, demos, and live tracks from the 1989-1990 version of Game Theory, with Miller joined by Gil Ray, who previously played drums with GT, on guitar and keyboards; Jozef Becker, who worked with Miller in his pre-GT group Alternate Learning, on drums; and Michael Quercio, formerly of the Three O'Clock, on bass. (The LP release features 14 songs, with ten more added on digital editions.) Only three of these tracks -- "Treat It Like My Own," "Rose of Sharon," and "Water" -- have been previously released, and those only on cassettes handed out to members of the Game Theory fan club. There are full-bodied studio takes of "My Free Ride," "Idiot Son," and "Inverness" here, but most of this material is drawn from demos Miller recorded at home. The full-band recordings are the work of a leaner, more concise Game Theory, with far less reliance on keyboards and punchier, more straightforward drumming, especially on the live recording of "The Door Into Summer" (which Quercio jokingly introduces as a song by Naked Eyes, while Miller patiently tells the crowd it was actually by the Monkees). As for the demos, many of the songs will be familiar to fans of Miller's later project, the Loud Family, as he repurposed most of them for their debut album, 1992's Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things. Miller's home-brewed recordings may lack the power of the Loud Family arrangements, but his songs appear fully formed, and even if the lyrics changed on a few of these songs, the rough drafts capture the magic of his melodies and the excellence of his guitar work with true eloquence. And it speaks to Miller's distinct vision that the three songs co-written with Quercio have a noticeably different personality, not necessarily jarring but clearly different from the others; while never shy about citing his influences, Miller really didn't sound much like his peers. Across the Barrier of Sound: Postscript was assembled from scraps and cast-offs, but it coheres almost as well as one of Miller's proper albums, and this music is a joyous yet powerful reminder of how much we lost when Miller died in 2013. If you ever enjoyed his work, you'll revel in this.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming