Friday, September 28, 2007

O.S.I. - Free CD Review

Jim where did our love go wrong?

Whats he doing? I know what he’s doing, he’s breakin’ my heart.

Before I dramatically go on:
O.S.I. stands for Office of Strategic Influence which consists of Jim Matheos (Fates Warning, Solo work) on guitars, keyboards, programming and Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, Porcupine Tree) on vocals, keyboards and programming. Free is OSI’s second release with special guests Mike Portney (Dream Theater) on drums and Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Armored Saint, Anthrax ) on bass. Free is their second release, with Office of Strategic Influence being their first.

Okay back to the drama:
Jim Matheos is one of my most treasured writers/musicians. It was his force that got me started on this odd time path back in the late 80s. I was in love with this music and it was my mission to be able to write like this. The first Fates Warning show I ever saw was in Boston and Jim and his manager helped sneak me in because I was too young. How cool of them to help this distraught stranger. Ever since then, I have seen every one of their shows that I have known about and almost everything he’s written I’ve resonated with (sans solo). I heard him write 4/4 before mainly during his solo efforts– but this “Free” is just a little bit too much for me to handle.

Sure You Will 4/4
Free 4/4Go 4/4
All Gone Now 3/8, 5/8, 11/8, 6/8
Home Was Good 4/4
Bigger Wave 4/4, 11/8, 5/8
Kicking 4/4Better 4/4, 7/8
Simple Life 4/4
Once 2/4
Our Town 6/8

There is simply too many FOURs in this equation. I think there is about 7 mins worth of odd time here (yes I did count it) which in turn makes it about 14% (OCD ya you know me) in odd meters. Jim please come back to your oddness, this is where you belong.

Okay deep breath… at least he didn’t go way off the deep end and start involving himself with sunshine, rainbows, smilely hearts, that I couldn’t take. The whole feeling of the album is perfectly reflected in the cover: the isolation of conformity, creative desolation and more than a bit of hopelessness. There are a lot of cool musical ideas and sounds here but its just not the same when its in four. I like the bass on "Sure You Will" and "Free". “Once” has some interesting poly-rhythms and moods. “Free” and “Kicking” are rockin’ as far as 4/4 songs go and of course my favorites were “All Gone Now” and “Better” – now we’re talking.

Anyways, back to Jim and this meter situation. Its sounds like he is trying to be something his is not – and that’s a 4/4 man. It just doesn’t suit him at all and takes from his magic. Now he’s Plain Jane Jim, not Magical Matheos. Please don’t tell me he is trying to appeal to a larger audience – I will forever be in denial of that if its true. It is a musical album, but Mr. Matheos’s signature is barely there.

Okay, enough of me selfishly holding on to someone’s expression (my new name: Loco B). Its healthy to experiment that is when you get to the gems. If you don’t have any OSI, go get the first one "Office of Strategic Influence" then hope he comes back to his senses for the third one.

Loco B
(Countess B)
Odd Time Obsessed

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