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. Little Buddy Says:

    Welcome to the club Big E. Psyched to have you on board!

  2. Chalkdustin Says:

    ^^ I heard that too. Also around the 10:00 minute mark of Blue and Yellow, the progression from there for about a minute and a half sounds a bit Tweezer-esque to me.

  3. Chalkdustin Says:

    ^**Blue Over Yellow

  4. Pence Says:

    I always wondered why the more expereienced crowd(aka older) never joined in on the fun. Phish could definitly be a bigger, and of course better party than Jimmy Buffet. Yes welcome Big E

  5. SOAM Says:

    I’d like to stick a cheesburger up jimmy buffets’ rich pseudo-touring ass-poser

  6. full tour: announced! Says:

    big e…..welcome aboard! greastest live act on the planet… june you,ll see why! i cant wait to have that feeling again.

  7. Pence Says:

    id like to shove a volcano up his ass

  8. Big E Says:

    I took my wife to the last 4 Allgood festies and yes, i am getting what i missed in my younger days, in more ways than one! I feel very welcome in this environment with you youngans, and have gratitude for being accepted as a music lover. I read about you guys “touring’ with the band, going from city to city, experiencing the experience and I think back to what I was doing in the summer/fall 1997. If I had known about Phish then….actually I did know, my neice was a head then, and I remember thinking, this band ain’t as good as “my” bands of that time, (and I can’t remember who was even listening to then).

    It is funny how musical tastes change as we grow older, and as a noob, reading posts from different web sites about the reunion, I can’t help but laugh at some of the “old” Phishheads who think the reunion is a joke or something bad. Dont want to sound maudelin (sp) here, but people better take advantage of the chance while it exists. So many bands I missed over the years because of tragic deaths of artists or loss of interest by bands.(See Genesis, GD, Beatles, SRV and so on). When we consider that these guys decided to even attempt to regroup and give it another try, that in itself is a blessing considering the course that Trey was headed down, and that is just from what we know as a matter of public record. Just a certain something that could have changed and we all would be going to see Nirvana reunion tour as well.

    My point if I have one, is thanks for the welcome and enjoy it while it is here, no matter what form it takes. You guys have had a great ride with this band for almost 20 years. Cherish was is to come. I know I will.

  9. Chalkdustin Says:

    Big E, can’t wait to see you on tour! Good to have ya!

  10. full tour: announced! Says:

    i really wish livephish would release the dvd and audio of 7.23.1997……show stands out to me now as much as it did seeing it live. i think the sbd above is from the it archive show.

  11. Big E Says:

    A quick note on my post above, as an example. My wife had never heard of any of these “jambands” before but I got her listening to Assembly of Dust and she LOVED them. And for her to follow a band is impressive in it’s own right. Went to 2 NYE shows with her in Boston and Keane. We did about 12 shows elsewhere as well. Now Nate Wilson has now left the group, for the most part, and she is very distraught. It happens. Life is short. work hard…party hard, party smart.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    just found out from my broker that he screwed me…anyone have extra Hamptons?

  13. bhizzle Says:

    screwed as in took your money and ran or resold your tix at a higher cost? either way sorry, but will you do it again?

  14. Frankie Says:

    That sucks Mr. Miner… i’m sorry… but i know you’ll find a way… 🙂

  15. full tour: announced! Says:

    sorry to hear about that miner… someone who wanted to go to hampton, but isnt able to, i feel what your going through. i hope you are able to make it happen somehow.

  16. tdj Says:

    anyone know where to find higher bit rate encoding?

    Thanks for the great write up

  17. Pence Says:

    Jeez that blows. If I see anything decent I will let you know.

  18. Chalkdustin Says:

    That’s awful Miner, so sorry to hear that. You’ll get there. We’ll all keep our eyes and ears open for you.

  19. John Campion Says:

    Anyone get Fri Hampton rejected from TicketsNOw? Thats the only one I have ordered from them.

  20. JMAN926 Says:

    That sucks Miner. Sorry to hear that. I really think there will be a few tix around. If i hear of anything, i’ll let you know.

  21. nonoyolker Says:

    Shit Miner, that sucks. Feeling for you pal. Lemme know if you need people to “talk” to your broker…

  22. nonoyolker Says:

    On the plus side, loving Big E’s possitivity! I wanna see you out there on the dusty trail big guy. I want to be there for your first YEM. Ah, i remember my first YEM like it was yesterday… I hope you’ll find that the scene is ageless, genderless, raceless…just a bunch of people who dig the music, plain and simple.

  23. Jeff Says:

    wow. that’s a late inning beatdown Minor. Hopefull your contribution to the community will pay off with some kind of ticket hook up. I’m sending postive thoughts your way ————–>

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    so my broker had been telling me he gets his tix from the promoter, and he hadn’t gotten them yet. It turn out that after I pressed him *hard* on the issue, he said, “Let me tell you the truth.” He got his tix through the Phish lottery and had his orders canceled because they SOMEHOW found out he was a scalper!! Good to know Phish is doing their job 😉 Anyhow, I made him buy me some expensive replacements. He was actually a good guy who wanted to keep his word, and didn’t understand what was going on b/c Phish hadn’t refunded him yet. (Maybe they wont.) LOL


  25. John Campion Says:


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