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07 DEC 10 DAVID SHANNON
The last 10 years have been very busy for Mike Gordon, whose latest record, Moss (Rounder), reflects a peripatetic tradition that marks his career as an intrepid voyager between artistic worlds. A founding and current member of jam band titans Phish, the respected bassist and songwriter spends plenty of time onstage providing the reunited band with an explorative backbone (Phish just wrapped up its Fall 2010 tour), and Gordon's steadily growing solo output signals his willingness to undertake evermore daring enterprises.
From his numerous side project bands, including early and mid-aughts recordings with master acoustic fingerpicker Leo Kottke, to his 2008 solo release The Green Sparrow, Gordon rarely sits still for long. And you can add filmmaker and author to his growing list of job titles: He directed the 2000 film Outside Out, a 2002 documentary tribute to Gov't. Mule bassist Alan Woody called Rising Low, and way back in 1997 he published Mike's Corner, a book of farcical short stories.
Moss continues this adventurous ride. It delivers a set of songs that travel from upbeat pop, such as the infectious bounce of opening track "Can't Stand Still" and closer "Idea," to the feel-good vibe of "Horizon Line" and the dreamy funk of "Spiral," to the anthemic coda in "What Things Seem." And lest he stray too far from Dead-inspired musings, "Babylon Baby" could be a number straight off of Terrapin Station. Just to keep the listener guessing, the lyrics and arrangement of "Flashback" neatly channel the jazz-pop of 21st century Steely Dan.
Two of Gordon's Phish compatriots, keyboardist Page McConnell and drummer Jon Fishman, join him here, but Gordon's bold streak wouldn't allow him to stick to just bass and songwriting duties. He also handles guitar, piano and drum programming. In short, the trip through Moss thankfully retains Gordon's musical idiosyncrasies and visits a number of compelling stops along the way.
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