Bassist Mike Gordon (co-founder of the seminal improvisational rock band Phish in 1983) will release Overstep, his fourth solo studio album (joining 2003’s Inside In, 2008’s The Green Sparrow, and 2010’s Moss) on MapleMusic Recordings February 25, 2014.
Most artists have a fixed ritual or routine that they rely on to inspire their efforts from concept to fruition. Gordon tends to establish general goals, and then eschew routines for creative experiments. One of his goals for Overstep was to trust himself to relinquish control, which he accomplished by sharing songwriting duties with guitarist and longtime collaborator Scott Murawski (who also tackles lead vocals on three of the album’s eleven tracks), and by handing over the producing reins for the first time in his solo career to Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, Uncle Tupelo, Pixies). Gordon invited a few new players into his sandbox, including legendary drummer Matt Chamberlain (Jon Brion, Fiona Apple), who fleshed out previously-recorded drum machine parts on actual drums.
The result is a diverse but tightly knit family of sturdy rock numbers that manages to sound grounded but sophisticated at the same time, and raw but carefully considered. Overstep’s opening track “Ether,” which begins as distant industrial noise that’s gradually replaced by lush guitars and welcoming vocal harmonies, serves as an invitation to the listener to set aside current preoccupations and come along for a 49-minute “reality check.” Gordon draws inspiration from an astonishing variety of sources, from the natural world to the emotional world to his often persistent visions. Like Gordon himself, the album is full of contradictions, juxtapositions, and surprises – which is exactly what his fans expect.