It’s not even remotely surprising that Mike Gordon has over a half dozen distinct project bands and collaborations on his résumé, not including his 30-year gig as bassist for Phish and his ever-expanding solo pursuits.
An accomplished multi-instrumentalist — bass, guitar, banjo and piano — Gordon is also a restless and curious creative soul with interests in various Country branches, including Honky Tonk, Folk and Bluegrass, as well as Calypso, Reggae and traditional Jewish musical forms. These inspirations have wormed their way into every aspect of Gordon’s astonishing career.
Gordon’s first semi-solo venture was 2002’s Clone, his collaboration with legendary Folk guitarist Leo Kottke, followed a year later by his first true solo release, Inside In. Some of the tracks had actually been recorded five years earlier and then stockpiled until Gordon had time to revisit them.
Before Phish reconvened in 2009, Gordon did one more album with Kottke, 2005’s Sixty Six Steps; his evocative sophomore solo album, 2008’s The Green Sparrow, which featured cameos from Phishmates Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell; and four live sets — two solo and one each from the Benevento-Russo Duo and the Rhythm Devils, a Grateful Dead side project.
A year after Phish’s triumphant return, Gordon released Moss, an album that he described as “bass centric,” followed four years later by Overstep, a continuation of his multi-genre approach, featuring a mix of Reggae, Funk, Jazz and chugging Rock. Gordon’s latest solo studio effort OGOGO, released three weeks ago, follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by offering an eclectic deviation from his Phishy Jam work, but departs from his solo blueprint by being daringly simple and experimental, all while retaining a funky foundation.
OGOGO’s first two singles have clear commercial potential with an appealing edge; “Steps” is an ethereal, Tropidelic Pop song with all the earmarks of a radio hit, while “Victim” is a groovetastic wah wah Funk workout.
Much of OGOGO employs synthesizers and programmed beats, with plenty of Gordon’s patented weirdness and splashes of Reggae, Psychedelia and his odd takes on Folk and Funk, overlaid with lots of aggressive Ambient noise.
After nearly a decade and a half, Gordon has shaken off any Phish purists who were disenchanted with his (relatively) straightforward songcraft and acute sonic oddballery and has attracted a fervent fan base that delights in his erratic yet utterly enchanting flights of fancy.