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Office of Strategic Influence
September 2003
Released: 2003, Insideout
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

When reports of this supergroup first surfaced many of my friends (and I) were in heaven. A dream come true…what a line-up! Then when the actual disc hit…reactions were mixed. Some critics and friends thought that it was far too removed from what the fans were hoping for namely classic Fates Theater or Dream Warning.

As innovative and creative musicians are oft to do, they threw us all a curve ball and released a very modern almost industrial prog rock/metal album. I did not hear this CD for six months until after it came out so I had time to pass through that initial phase of excitement and then disappointment upon heating it was NOT what I had hoped and expected. The advantage of the wait is that I settled into this disc with an open mind and all the mixed press a faint memory. I’m glad I waited because it is hard at times NOT to be influenced by those around you with strong opinions and of course natural curiosity about what OSI would sound like.

OSI is very modern, lots and lots of synthesizers with quirks and quarks, blips and bleeps that sounded like they were lifted from the very first Nine Inch Nails album. Kevin Moores vocals are almost non-existent, heavily layered, distorted and droning. The words themselves on the seven tracks with lyrics are a vague stream of consciousness style which normally I intensely dislike but in this case they work well within the confines of the ultimately trippy laid back songs. The lyrics are..well..kinda dumb. ‘Hello Helicopter’ , ‘Memory Daydream Lapses’ and most of the rest just don’t make much sense when you read them casually. Not bad…just…weird.

Insideout has done a wonderful job on the gorgeous and innovative packaging and design. The passport layout was a stroke of genius. I’m surprised no one had thought of it before. Production is top-notch despite the vocals being waay too far back in the mix for my taste but it was obvious this is not a vocal showcase.

The whole disc is laden with heavy keyboards, but what did ya expect when the main songwriter is a keyboardist? Guitars are pushed way back and there is lots of ambient space and these songs have lots of room to breath and flow. Most of the band is under-utilized for the entire album; it is as if Moore just brought some buddies along and told them not to over do it. Touches of acoustic guitar, a lots of samples and quirky parts add to the prog diversity of OSI. Despite the slow pace it never got boring with perhaps only ‘Shutdown’ clocking in at over ten minutes tending to drag.

Not what I was expecting by any means but still intriguing and enjoyable. Headphone music for sure and I think this one will continue to grow on me…or run the risk of getting rarely played, probably both.
Track Listing

1. The New Math (What He Said)
2. OSI
3. When you’re Ready
4. Horseshoes And B-52’s
5. Head
6. Hello, Helicopter
7. Shutdown
8. Dirt From A Holy Place
9. Memory Daydream Lapses
10. Standby (Looks Like Rain)


Kevin Moore-Vocals, Keys
Jim Matheos-Guitar, keys
Sean Malone-Bass
Mike Portnoy-Drums



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