The Victor Disc

Poking around the Internet yesterday, I stumbled upon some new Phish music!  Posted in multiple Phish forums was the complete version of The Victor Disc, a series of instrumental outtakes from a 2002 jam session.  I had posted the first three tracks on Phish Thoughts recently, but now we have uncovered all ten tracks to the mysterious quasi-album!  The story behind the recording is as follows.

512266001_ed6e7332b2On December 19th, 2002, while Phish was in New York to appear on The Late Show With David Letterman,  Trey and Page popped into a downtown recording studio sometime after midnight.  Deciding to play, they called Fishman and Gordon, asking them to join.  Phish then taped an extensive spontaneous jam session, and decided on the title, The Victor Disc, named after the session’s engineer.

The overwhelming feel of the album is organic improvisation.  Looser than most Phish music, The Victor Disc is a portrait of a band reacclimating to each other by simply playing together.  With no particular goal in mind, the band got into the studio and let it flow.  If The Siket Disc was focused on psychedelic soundscapes, The Victor Disc is focused on looser jazz-based improvisation with a distinctly Phishy twist.   When digging into the extensive album, one will find that the first few tracks that had leaked onto the Internet are hardly the highlights.  Totaling two hours and twenty minutes of pure Phish improv, there are some golden moments hidden within.  Since we have already heard the first three tracks, let’s look at some of the other, far longer, offerings.  (You can download the entire album below via torrent.)

“Victor Jam Session” 11:20

This segment of improv passes through many Phishy textures, starting in a noodly territory and meandering through various loose musical feels.  Eventually, this track picks up some momentum, and the band locks into some rolling patterns.  Mike steps up to take the lead, and the band locks onto his bass line creating minutes of extremely cohesive Phish music.

“Sky Train Wand” 17:24

1141298742_834063c520Beginning solely with a sparse drum beat, Trey slowly layers some rhythm licks into play, inviting Mike and Page to subtly step into the quiet medium.  Sounding like a hybrid of reggae and jazz, Phish is off creating another unique slice of improv.  Illustrating the patience that became a huge part of 2.0, this jam uses space as much as it uses notes.  What is great about these extended “glimpses” into Phish’s private world is that we get to see a raw picture of the band offering new and original musical ideas with no preconceptions whatsoever.  While this point is reached in shows, there is always a context to the music; yet behind closed doors, we get to see a bit deeper into the band’s experimentation and imagination.  The second half of this “jam” sees Trey and Page combine to play beautiful leads over the open backdrop before the band congeals back together.

“Blue Over Yellow” 15:30

Trey carries a thematic lead melody over a unique pocket formed by Mike and Fish during this outtake.  Sounding like he is playing around with the “Banana Pudding” melody, Trey draws in Page’s piano accompaniment and the band engages in a methodical, cooperative groove.  Page adds quite a bit of tonal color to this segment of music, as the band locks into a series of slowed down hits- all very much on the same page.  Fish leads them out of this section as the band remains locked and incredibly loose.  In the second half of this track, they gain more of an edge, lending some harder, more dissonant sound to the mix.  The entire band is moving like a single-celled organism on this track (and on most of the disc, for that matter.)  This is a laid back, yet engaging, piece of music.

“Guantanamo Strut” 17:22

image-407d4750449b11d71Divergent from any of the previous tracks on this album, “Guantanamo Strut” starts right in with a harder rock feel.  Trey uses a much louder tone at the beginning of this piece than on any other (except the last track.)  Maintaining a jazzy beat behind the more straight ahead accompaniment, Fish maintains a rhythmic focus to the track, while Page lends piano chords that returns a jazzier feel to the improv.  One of the two most groove-based tracks, this jam possesses real musical diversity, and doesn’t stagnate in any one place.  Segueing back into a jazzier feel, the band locks into some interesting patterns that sound like they could be derived from a jazz version of “Stash.”  Building out a legitimate groove, the band explores in a free-form way, sounding like they are playing in a late-night smoky jazz club.

About two-thirds of the way through, the music becomes much more Phishy as Trey begins to access his more signature sound, creating sustained melodic leads, causing the music to sound like an ambient Phish jam you might hear at a show.

“35 Minute Jam” 35:33

By far the longest “track” on the album, “35 Minute Jam” moves through several different improvisational realms.  Stylistically fitting with the album’s loose playing, the start of the track possess a “louder” feel than much of the delicate Victor Disc. For the beginning of the jam, the 508810816_640c76bfddband maintains a blues-rock feel before switching gears into a far more mellow milieu.  As if they changed songs on a dime, this track’s second section become very quiet and beautiful, moving into an sparse “ambient” place.

The jam winds down into near silence for some minutes before Trey begins to add some happy rhythm chords to the barely existing canvas, inviting Mike and Page back into the mix.  Taking their time, and with precision, the band continues to morph in and out of some minimalist patterns.  Soon, the band jams back down to virtual silence again, this time with Mike leading them back out. Progressing into an interesting musical narrative, Trey plays more conventional patterns; albeit at a slowed tempo.  Gradually slipping into a drone pattern, the band unites in some improvised starts and stops, illustrating their cohesiveness and focus.

“Heartache”  0:34

This is tiny interlude that features a melancholic piano-led pattern that is gone before it really starts.  The only lyrics on the album appear for a few seconds on this track- a sample of a woman wistfully saying something indiscernible about about heartache.

“The Last Victor Jam” 24:23

511634157_9e98c9f655This track starts in with the most aggressive musical palette on the album, jumping in seemingly mid-jam when the band has already built some musical momentum.  While remaining firmly rooted in piano-led jazz, this track has more drive to it than all the others.  Moving a bit faster, Fish holds the framework of this musical stew as Page really stands out.  As it builds, this “jam” finds a distinct direction and follows its course, creating the sound most similar to live Phish that exists on The Victor Disc.  As the jam moves on, the band returns to the jazz aura of the session, while still holding onto their more direct path.  A definite album highlight, “The Last Victor Jam” puts a nice cap on this series of instrumental Phish.

At last, the mystery of The Victor Disc has been revealed.  In a collection of extended instrumental outtakes, Phish painted a portrait of where they were in December 2002, on the verge of stepping back onstage at Madison Square Garden for their second go-round.  Now, on the verge of part three, we can look back, listen, and reflect on a time gone by.  More extensive, yet less polished, than the “scrapbook-psychedelia” of The Siket Disc, The Victor Disc allows us to peek in on Phish with a completely different mindset than they had while creating its ’99 counterpart.


1. Lazy and Red (5:57)
2. Den of Iniquity (9:55)
3. Bubble Wrap (4:34)
4. Sky Train Wand (17:24)
5. Blue Over Yellow (15:30)
6. Guantanamo Strut (17:22)
7. Victor Jam Session (11:19)
8. Heartache (0:34)
9. 35 minute jam (35:33)
10. Last Victor Jam (24:23)

(Track titles are questionable)



456_msmn_trippy_v2_copyFan and filmmaker, Noah Wilderman, is in the midst of a documentary project that examines the evolution of the Phish community- “Maybe So, Maybe Not.” In Noah’s own words:

The Phish experience is an important cultural phenomenon, embodying the journey of my generation in many ways.  I’d like to tell that story.  Quite simply, now is the time to tell this particular story because this generation is coming into its own, personally and politically.  Our journey through life has been to a soundtrack that seemed to match the beats of many lives step by step.  By analyzing both the timeline of Phish side by side with the tides of the generation, we can see how closely they are linked and signify the relevance of Phish in the lineage of a century of influential music communities with a historical perspective.

hampton_outsideEverything is currently in place to do copious filming around Hampton to capture the face of the community.  While some established shoots are already set up, Noah is also looking to talk to people in a variety of settings, doing Phish related activities, random reunions, lot activities, local impact, etc.  Some of the things he hopes to capture are:
– old school fans and their views about Phish and the evolution of the scene and where it’s going (and where they hope it goes)
– new fans and their vibe
– community activism
–  the craziness and fervor over the reunion and why it’s important.
–  mini web interviews just for fun so people can go to the web and see their little piece of Hampton.

If you’d like to support film making efforts, they have started a grassroots fundraiser with the goal of getting each participant to donate $5.  If you’d like to be in the film, get in contact with the producers.  With only a few weeks left, every person following along and every $5 is huge.

Check out more about this project at Maybe So, Maybe Not’s website, or his Facebook group for the movie, and look out for him down in Hampton.


10.25.95 St. Paul Civic Center, MN < LINK

St. Paul Civic Center, MN

St. Paul Civic Center, MN

A quality nugget from Fall ’95, this second set flows beautifully.  An uptempo “Reba” kicks things off before the band gets downright dirty with “Mike’s.”  Check out some great Trey work all over this jam, and then the band moves into an instrumental jam around Dark Side of the Moon‘s “Breathe.”  If you’ve never heard this one, you should.

I: Ya Mar, Sample in a Jar, The Divided Sky, The Wedge, Scent of a Mule, Free, Strange Design, My Long Journey Home, I’m Blue I’m Lonesome, Chalk Dust Torture

II: Reba, Life on Mars?, Cars Trucks Buses, Mike’s Song > Breathe*> Sparkle > Weekapaug Groove, Suzy Greenberg > Crossroads

E: Fire

*Pink Floyd cover (first time played); instrumental

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110 Responses to “The Victor Disc”

  1. Mike Russo Says:

    Not sure who else has noticed yet, but I think the first 6 tracks are the ‘real’ Disc, whereas the next 4 are more like the initial jams, portions of which were cutup to form the song titles on the first disc.

    sky train wand is taken from the 35 minute jam, blue over yellow from the victor jam session (although there appears to be a cymbal breakdown at the end that might be mixed in later), guantanamo strut is from the last victor jam session, and heartache from the end of that too.

    while i’ve always wanted to hear the original siket disc outtakes, and i am kinda getting that opportunity with these bonus tracks, i do appreciate the work that they put into the creation of siket and the first six tracks here (which are better engineered and louder than the source tracks). and listening to the first six certainly makes it more digestible. 🙂

  2. Sal Miakki Says:

    Thanks for the Victor. Sounds really great. Smoothed out my morning good!

  3. forbin331 Says:

    what happened to the link…just trying to help out a few phriends

  4. Mr.Miner Says:


  5. RebasBug Says:

    i know that someone earlier mentioned they hated mp3s. i suck with computers and mp3 is all i really know of. im curious if there is an mp3 version of the victor disc? maybe it already is i just never understood the
    -.rar on the end and why i cant open it when i download it. any help would be appreciated. thanks!

  6. phunkyjedi08 Says:

    AMAZING – thank you SO MUCH for this! seriously, you’re a hero – and right before Hampton, too.


    thanks for this mang….

  8. El Jefe Says:

    Thanx Mr. Minor!

  9. DT Says:

    Get 7zip and you will be able to open it its a free program.

  10. Peter Majoros Says:

    Hi There,

    Any chance you still have a link for The Victor Disc? Thanks – Pete.

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