The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Phish bassist swims in expirmental waters

Understandably quirky, the film won the Audience Award at South by Southwest festival in 2000. Upon completion of the film, Gordon took the score from the movie and reworked the songs into new jams.

In a sense, Inside In could be viewed as a loose soundtrack for “Outside Out;” several of the tracks contain lyrics that directly relate to particular scenes in the movie. But after one quick listen, there’s no doubt that Gordon’s debut album can stand entirely alone.

With funky beats, jazzy rhythms, soul-moving blues and a down-home country twang, Gordon has combined his favorite genres to create an album very much his own.

It would have been easy for Gordon to find himself trapped in a sea of Phish influences, but the only time the album seems to take a Phish turn is on “Couch Lady,” which features knee-slapping beats and vocal harmonizations that still combine for a fun, enjoyable song. But overall, Gordon breaks away nicely from his full-time band and proves that he can take the role as bandleader and not just bass player.

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Actually, Gordon hardly relies on his bass at all.

The array of instruments featured on the album deserves its own side chart, with a large sub-heading for Gordon alone. Wurlitzer, moog, accordion, blue button (yes, a blue button that simply beeps), djembe drums, washing machine, dryer, shaker, clavinet, vibe tube, cow tilt, tambourine, pedal steel, bass harmonica … he plays them all.

As if this individual talent wasn’t enough, Gordon employs the help of Bela Fleck; pedal steel players Gordon Stone and Buddy Cage; drummers Jon Fishman, Gabe Jarrett and Russ Lawton; Hampton (obviously), who delivers “guitar wumps” on several tracks and his smooth Southern advice on another and several other assistants.

This combination of talent works together to form an album of varied songs, each one unique in its own right.

The instrumental number “Major Minor” brings to mind visions of Medeski, Martin & Wood, and “Steel Bones” sends you into Deep South territory with the combination of steel guitar, horns, and the plucking of Fleck.

Gordon takes a Beck-like spoken-word approach on “Outside Out,” and “The Teacher” is grass-roots driven, with the overlaying of Hampton saying, “You can go into an office and take a napkin and put a brick on top of a napkin in an office, or you can see people working out in areas, and you drive by and you go, ‘They’re in areas,’ and they do have the threat of vomit.”

Yet it’s “Bone Delay,” a soul-searching number, which easily stands out as the finest of them all. The deep, aching sound of Stone’s smooth pedal steel propels the song forward, while piece-by-piece layering of drums, bongos, clarinet, and trombone build until Fleck’s banjo enters.

Gordon originally had the track listing at 18 songs, cut it down to 13, and finally added two songs he couldn’t let go of to create the final 15-song album.

We may never find out which two tracks he added, but he very well may have been able to do without them.

“Admoop” is a foray into electronic noises and sounds that frankly does nothing for the album. “Exit Wound” is slow and a little too forlorn for the overall vibe created on Inside In, as Gordon vocally struggles through the song.

One thing is for sure, though. Gordon has a long road ahead of him, whether he’s thumping beats with Phish, writing songs for solo endeavors, or directing more Southern musicians in feature-length films.

Grade: AB