O.S.I. - Office Of Strategic Influence

Year of Release: 2003
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 116
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:33:00

The Office Of Strategic Influence is one of the multitude of experimental mergers and supergroups that frequently arise in progressive circles. With a cast of prog legends from such bands as Fates Warning, Dream Theater and Chroma Key, O.S.I. certainly had a legend to live up to. If you're expecting O.S.I. to sound much like any of its members' main bands, you're likely to be disappointed; as experimental prog so often is, O.S.I. is difficult to classify or compare to other bands within the genre. Out of the three, it's probably the most like Chroma Key, but even that's not a completely accurate statement.

O.S.I.'s central members are Kevin Moore of Chroma Key (keyboards/vocals), Jim Matheos of Fates Warning (guitars/keyboards), and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater (drums); also featured are Sean Malone on bass (Gordian Knot) and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) as a guest vocalist.

At the beginning of its production, this project was being kicked around as a purely prog metal album, which is best seen on the first two tracks ("The New Math - What He Said" and "OSI"). Heavy syncopated riffing, thumping percussion, dark avant-garde synthesisers. Beautiful stuff. Then from the third track forward, it feels like Moore took the reins firmly in hand and drove the O.S.I. buggy off into his own private sunset; the further one gets into the album the more it takes on a Chroma Key feel. Cool, airy, atmospheric, yet overlaid with a subliminal dark urgency, the songs progress with Moore's trademark sophistication and only occasionally drop back into the heaviness of the beginning. Influences from Pink Floyd and Rush are present, and Wilson has obviously brought some of Porcupine Tree with him as well.

If you're interested in checking out O.S.I., the limited 2-disc edition is worth getting, with the second disc chock-full of goodies - covers of Pink Floyd's "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" and Neil Young's "New Mama;" the original demo of "Looks Like Rain" (titled "The Thing That Never Was"); plus a nifty multimedia section featuring videos of the prog-wizards at work. Who could ask for more?

If you want to appreciate O.S.I., listen to it for itself and try to forget that it's a Portnoy side project, because it certainly isn't a Dream Theater clone. OSI is a real treat, a uniquely mature album. Its smooth, brooding flavour, punctuated by walloping metallic passages and heavy riffs, is a pleasure to experience. It might not always be the most energetic music in your collection, but hey, we all need to chill out sometimes.

Similar to: Pink Floyd, Chroma Key, Rush, Porcupine Tree

Released in North America by InsideOut Music America (IOMACD 2049-2)

[This review originally appeared May 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Disc One: The New Math (What He Said) (3:36) / OSI (3:48) / When You?re Ready (4:09) / Horseshoes And B-52s (4:18) / Head (5:17) / Hello, Helicopter! (3:44) / ShutDOWN (10:35) / Dirt From A Holy Place (5:10) / Memory Daydreams Lapses 5:56) / Standby (Looks Like Rain) (2:09) / Videoclip: Horseshoes And B-52s

Disc Two: Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (8:49) / New Mama (2:22) / The Thing That Never Was (17:21) / plus: video documentary

Jim Matheos - guitars, keyboards, programming
Kevin Moore - vocals, keyboards, programming
Mike Portnoy - drums
Sean Malone - bass, stick
Steven Wilson - vocals (7)

Office Of Strategic Influence (2003)
Free (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 17th 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website: www.osiband.com
Hits: 1123
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]