Mike Gordon


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Even though Phish bassist Mike Gordon has been involved in extracurricular projects for years, having played and recorded with everyone from Leo Kottke to members of the Grateful Dead, in addition to his solo albums, it seems difficult to assess his solo work outside the Phish context. So just for laughs, let's pretend for a moment that there's no such thing as Phish, and that Gordon has only ever been a musical entity unto himself. Taken entirely on his own merits, Gordon comes across as an inventive but easygoing artist on his third official solo album, Moss. Despite Gordon's multi-instrumental abilities, many of the songs are built -- from the bottom up -- around his funky, percolating basslines, but that's not to imply that any of the tunes are lacking in interesting harmonic development. A number of these songs seem jazz-informed, though not overtly jazzy -- more like Gordon learned his harmonic theory from Steely Dan records (which is no bad thing). He's got a light but flexible voice that never calls attention to itself, but easily navigates the often unconventional melody lines of his compositions. The hint of world music rhythmic undercurrents intersects with funk and R&B grooves in some of the songs on Moss like "Babylon Baby" and "Idea," sometimes lending the album a Paul Simon-like air. The hectic, appropriately titled opening track, "Can't Stand Still," however, is an unabashed rocker, if a quirky one, and the slightly stoned white-boy-funk feel of cuts like "What Things Seem" suggests a denizen of the Spin Doctors' sphere of influence (now there's a reference not trotted out very often circa 2010). For some reason, though, the entirety of Moss also bears a strange, indefinable connection to the sound of some ‘90s New England jam band whose name seems to escape us at the moment.

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