Time Turns Fantastic

970699Less than a week after the album release and second-ever performance of Trey’s orchestral opus “Time Turns Elastic,” Phish gave the community a significant pre-tour jolt by releasing the newly-completed Phish version as a single on iTunes yesterday morning.  Utilizing another video announcement, this time of a studio montage while the song peaks as a soundtrack, Phish punctuated the arrival of their newest piece of music- and by the way it was presented, they seem damn proud of it.  A thirteen-plus minute composition, “Time Turns Elastic” will be featured on Phish’s forthcoming album and will certainly jump into this summer’s rotation before too long.

5.21.09 Baltimore (D. Morris)

5.21.09 Baltimore (D. Morris)

What started out as an idea for a Phish song during Trey’s solo time in Whitehall, NY, transformed into an orchestral piece, with two movements, in collaboration with Don Hart of Orchestra Nashville.  After debuting “Time Turns Elastic” at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium last September, Trey set out to record and release his one of a kind piece.  Right around that time, an acoustic demo of Trey playing the song by himself in The Barn surfaced, giving everyone a better point from which to imagine the piece as a Phish song; but I’m not sure anyone imagined this.  Rearranging the piece’s second movement for a four-piece band and recording it in New York City, Phish has morphed the symphonic composition into a musical suite that will transfix audiences this summer.

What jumps out about “Time Turns Elastic”- as compared to Phish’s older multi-part compositions- is its cohesiveness.  As opposed to many of the band’s classic songs that often contrast different musical milieus with precise, and sometimes abrupt, Zappa-like transitions, “Time Turns Elastic,” flows naturally from one segment into the next, each connected with a melodic framework that provides a unifying thread throughout the piece.  While moving between many different compositional textures, there is always a familiar element of the song’s melodic structure, holding it together coherently.


Time Turns Elastic "Single"

After listening through the track about ten times yesterday, I figure there have to be at at least four or five distinct places where Phish could jump into different improvisational segments.  Thus it will be interesting to see where the band stretches the song out when it’s performed live- not to mention there is a chance they will choose to play it as a straight composition- but they are Phish.  Swimming between upbeat textures and darker segments, musical peaks and valleys, “Time Turns Elastic” has an incredibly dynamic quality.  Some parts feel genuinely uplifting, while others are certainly somber and introspective, providing a sense of musical narrative.



The playing on the track sounds like Phish has been firing in the studio and the video can confirm the fun they are having.  The most essential part on the track is played by Fishman, who is “doin’ work” the entire time, creating extraordinarily delicate beats and cradling the music with a tapestry of rhythms that guide the band through the many diverse sections.  Also interesting about “Time Turns Elastic” is the “whole-band” focus- no one person plays lead- instead, Trey, Mike, and Page, collectively provide the musical filling.  While Trey wrote this song by himself, it is certainly not a guitar-led piece, rather a more collaborative effort that may foreshadow a newer song model.

Beyond a strict musical opus, there is a five-piece lyrical montage of poetic imagery that narrates a story right alongside.  A philosophical statement about the fluctuations of time and our lives, Trey shares a piece of his own with us through this song.  With images like the following: “But I am a submarine / and the submarine sinks below the ground” to “These are the reasons / that we lay down on the / ground / Drawn through a funnel, all / the colors run together / Turning brown;” “Wait for the waves to come / and carry me away / Down on the ground the / sound of voices in the / echoes seem to say;” “And the carousel turns into / breath around me;” Trey has certainly responded to his post-hiatus pop song naysayers with his strongest and most personal lyrical effort in some time.  Essentially, Time Turns Elastic is a musical reflection on Trey’s time of struggle and the celebration of the resiliency of the human spirit.  (Cue haters vomiting.)

Hampton (J.Bryce)

Hampton (J.Bryce)

Yet while many of the lyrical themes are personally connected to Trey’s life, they are universally applicable to all of ours.  We have all gone through periods where time has turned elastic- sped quickly or crawled- depending on our state of mind and activity, and we understand the fluctuations of emotion.  We have all felt ourselves “in and out of focus” or the “world turning upside down;” and similarly, we have all felt “kissed by the water and held in [our] mother’s arms” and “paved with gold gleaming in daylight.”  It is authentic human emotion that “Time Turns Elastic” draws on, both lyrically and musically, striking a chord somewhere inside us all.  Maybe you don’t feel it yet after a listen or two, but wait until this summer is over- you will.



7.20.99 Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON < TORRENT LINK

1999-07-20moLet’s take it north of the border for today’s download to Toronto, home of pleasant Molson Amphitheatre, right on the water.  In Phish’s first visit, they christened the venue with a great first set that was highlighted by the closing triumvirate of “Ghost,” “Wilson,” “YEM.”  The second set, solid all the way through, was highlighted by the closing “2001 > Misty Mountain Hop” debut.  All in all, a nice nugget from the north!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Sample in a Jar, Cars Trucks Buses, The Sloth, The Divided Sky, Waste, Ghost, Wilson, You Enjoy Myself

II: Twist, The Moma Dance, What’s the Use?, Train Song, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Misty Mountain Hop*

E: Guyute, Hello My Baby

*First time played

Source: Unknown

Tags: ,

204 Responses to “Time Turns Fantastic”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    let’s keep in mind they brought the funk in good proportion @ Hampton – tho even more would have been fine too. We may never see another set of new funk-bomb tunes like the Ghost era but those songs aren’t going to go away either.

    I’d love to see more tunes in the vein of Song I Heard The Ocean Sing, yeah.

    As for this song: the ensemble performance is superb. Really amazing. It’s so much more complex than I thought on first listen! The way the sections are integrated my melody and flow from one to another kind of disguises the complexity, so it sounds natural, but when you listen closely it’s always shifting.

    One interesting thing about the mix is that Trey is to the side, balanced with Page, instead of center. A quick scan through the Phish studio tracks I have on this computer and it sounds like in previous albums Trey has almost always been dead center or close to it – Rift being an exception. Here the center is filled by Mike and Fish, who are both nuts on this track.

    My favorite part is the last instrumental section that’s fully underway @10:00 and peaks going into that Beatlesque vocal part before the ending fanfare section. That jam is sick. But the whole second half of the tune is really impeccable.

    The first half is more lyrical and therefore more arguable I guess. I’m feeling parts of this lyric and not others. The “submarine” bit is clumsy IMO and is a little jarring to me. Other parts are better. I like what he’s getting at, and I actually like the lyric better after reading it (thanks empire01). It’s written from the perspective of someone with a little age on them….

    I agree with the people who hear this as a further evolution of the Scents/Walls/Pebbles batch of songs.

    Overall I like it a lot – however, like Fishman said about Hendrix, I could understand how some fans wouldn’t. In that metaphor, Ghost is Bob Marley: anyone who doesn’t get it is someone whose musical taste I can write off. But I can see not being into this, at least at first. But I think it rocks, especially the second half – it just kind of gets better and better and better.

    Kudos to everyone on this board for continued awesomeness.

  2. empire01 Says:

    Hey anyone from Tennessee?? or does anyone have any info on what airports are close to Knoxville?? Kentucky?
    Im trying to see if I can just fly there (south Florida) instead of driving..but the flights to TN are out of hand.

  3. Albert Walker Says:

    @ completely

    don’t want to start WW III again, but
    do we really have to right off my musical tastes entirely cuz I don’t dig Marley- JK

    I do understand the sentiment I feel that way about Curtis Mayfield, Syd Barrett, and Freddie King

    I do agree that this tune is not for everyone which is always good.
    It does not hit you over the head and makes you think about what you are hearing

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    and interesting…my crew is pretty played out too…my wife and I are in our late 30s and are taking our 5 yr old son to his first shows this summer, but we still party as much as we can…most of our show friends are in one of the following 3 categories now:

    1) still acting like they are 19 – which is a great way to act when you are 19 – or even 25 – but when you are nearing 40 the “get wasted all day every day and never do anything else” thing becomes kind of sad

    2) jaded and fucking annoying as hell to go to shows with – especially frustrating since they were the same way at shows in like 99 and now they are pointing at THOSE shows as “the last time things were cool” – oh yeah well at those shows you did nothing but bitch about how it wasn’t like ’94, or how much better you liked the Dead…STFU already and have fun fer chrissakes

    3) full on soccer-mom suburban wine cooler drinkers who we basically have nothing in common with at all anymore except kids

    Actual grown-up adults who still remember how to have fun are few and far between.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    @AW – it just means that we have some fundamental incompatibility music-wise so even though you may be a great dude there’s just something “off” between our tastes which means we should take each others recommendations with a grain of salt…nothing personal…with you on Curtis and Syd, Freddie King I like but is more on the Hendrix than the Marley side for me (in that metaphor)

    Some fucking crazy old school Floyd on Comcast On Demand this month btw – like 67 UFO club shit with Syd doing his full-on spaceman vibe onstage – very very cool

  6. Marshall Says:

    Completely … do you worry that taking your five-year old to shows will make him end up in the first category of crowd you described when he gets older?? I’m 37 and still love Phish, but had my parents trekked me to Grateful Dead shows or the like when I was five, I’m not sure I would have turned out as well as I have (IMO). You are the parent, of course, so its your right and your decision. To me, aside from the music, I don’t think a Phish show lot scene is a good thing to expose a child to. OK – off my soapbox…. sorry.

  7. HarryHood Says:


    Just a pre-show brew tip. Hit up the smaller bars on Van Ness, Ipswich, and Boylston Streets behind the park. The places in front of the Stadium like Cask & Flagon are landmarks and are usually packed! I ended up at this tiny joint on Ipswich called the “Baseball Tavern” before a Sunday game once and there was only a handful people there and the place was really chill! When we left, we walked about a block over to the front of the park and people were waiting outside just to get in the bars. Just my two cents…..

  8. cottle Says:


    I have a DPA source of that BSO show if you want it. Email me at cottle_jason@yahoo.com, and let me know if you want the FLAC or the audio version. The sound quality is so-so, but it’s the only source I’ve seen surface so far.

  9. HarryHood Says:

    Correction: Baseball tavern is on Boylston……

  10. nonoyolker Says:

    Kenmore Sq has a bunch of good little bars. Places like Cask and Flannigans will be PACKED pre-show.

  11. nonoyolker Says:

    ^ Baseball Tavern has a sick roof too that overlooks fenway and is done up to look like the inside of fenway park. I could see some great confusion if psychadelics were introduced.

  12. Frankie Says:

    Sounds like a plan… 🙂

  13. notkuroda Says:

    I’m 36 and have 2 kids. I’ve taken my daughters to many shows. Yes, the dirty lot scene can be a little unruly but I can make a good judgement call over whether or not it’s inappropriate for little eyes and ears. This tour is just me, kids will hit a couple shows with me in the fall I’m sure

  14. Jack O Roses Says:

    Nice Miner: Time turns Fantastic! Love it.

    So, when do we get another song release? 🙂
    Dang. I’m gettin spoiled. ;-P

    Were heading up on Saturday and are going to hit this up:

    Should be off the hook.

  15. hooks Says:

    i didn’t get to all the comments, so i’m repeating a little i’m sure, but if i may just add to it – the more i’ve listened to it, the more i hear the recovery of trey, and subsequently phish, coming through strong. (real strong). which is obvious given the context of the writing of the song… it feels like the drop of a powerful statement that says so many things about the future-forward state of the band we love. releasing this as a single now, says to me (the fans), “we love what this band is/it’s potential, we love you, and we really like being back” or something of that nature. i too wasn’t feeling all the lyrics rights away (kinda hippy cliche maybe, like someone said), but liked a lot of them immediately, and i’m totally opened minded about new phish, and it will take flight live…, so not concerned with it at all. what the lyrics reflect on is bigger than words themselves. the cohesiveness and flow is great, and i’ve enjoyed listening over and over and over since my lunch break yesterday! im done, my two cents. also, hell yeah to the hell yeahs for fishman

  16. Jay Says:

    Thanks for the tip Harry! Want to definitely avoid the crowded bars.

  17. msbjivein Says:

    So The baseball Tavern on Boylston is the low key place to be pre and post show?? If so I’m there along w/ some friends I’m meeting in Boston. What are the good local beers??

  18. Bapslap Says:

    I’m partial to Sam Summer…local, but not really a micro.

  19. msbjivein Says:

    Sam AdamS???

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    one of the coolest thing about phish is their ability to harness a new music style and then assimilate it into their Jam collective – They haven’t written a funky song since the 20th century really, but they sure as hell have been funky since then .. but once they get their fill of a jam style, it is put in the toolbox aresenal to be busted out at will later – a great new phish show will have sections that represent each of these phases – which incidentally is why we keep coming back, and they haven’t faded away.

    thanks cottle, I will email you ..

  21. HarryHood Says:

    @ msbjivein ~ Get those tickets yet??

    Sam Summer is one of my favorites! Good call Bapslap! Magic Hat #9, Switchback, etc…….. Not sure about true blue Boston local brews, but I’m sure any of the bartenders will give you the low down. I’m definitely going to check out the Baseball Tavern pre-show.

  22. Bapslap Says:

    yes, Samuel Adams. The brewery is not far from Fenway.

  23. msbjivein Says:

    Not yet. But I’m sure they’ll probably be here today or tomorrow. Are they coming from VT???

  24. Little Buddy Says:

    I haven’t weighed in on this site for a while, but I’ve been reading…

    I agree with most of the sentiments re: TTE. Fish kills it and the rest is really nice. The lyrics are slowly growing on me. This thing could be epic if they decide to jam out some sections as Miner proposed.

    I don’t get the dislike for Round Room and Undermind era tunes. SASS is mindblowing to me (7.30.03) and although they never quite stretched Walls out as much as they could’ve, I really like that tune. Song I Heard the Ocean Sing is killer, as most seem to agree. They may not be as strong as some earlier stuff, but what is. To each his own, I guess…

    Interesting choices many of us have to make regarding our old Phish crews. I’m in the same boat as many of you, it seems. My wife and I have seen too many shows to count and we now have a son. He will be at Great Woods, but that’s probably it. I’m not worried about exposing him to things at Phish shows. (I lived in a poor neighborhood in the Bronx when I was a little guy and saw much worse out on the streets in the 70’s. Its all just one big teachable moment.) We are doing a little run from Star Lake through Alpine and several friends want to tag along and ride with us. I hate saying no to people I love, but I just cannot stand drama… What to do?!?! I love having this problem though, ya know…since I wouldn’t if Phish wasn’t BACK!!!

    Can’t wait to get in the car to go pick up my kid at daycare and listen to TTE again.

  25. Bapslap Says:


    This is shaping up to be a meeting place. I’ll also bring my crew there pre-show. Convenient location, and roof top lounging!

    It is supposed to be 73 degrees with 0% chance of rain on Sunday!!
    Does it get any more perfect?!

Leave a Reply