If this summer’s tour was defined by Joy and its Americana blues-rock, the question on my mind is, “Will fall be anchored by the musical intrigue of Party Time?” A far more engaging album for many fans, the tracks that have yet to appear live carry a plethora of new sounds for Phish. Forging a unique musical path, much of Party Time evokes the sounds of psychedelic-era The Beatles, Pink Floyd spliced with contemporary influences. Armed with a set of unplayed songs that may push them to new musical planes, Phish starts a fall tour tomorrow that has become even more enticing with Party Time’s possibilities.
“In A Misty Glade” likens a liquid fantasy that creates a mysterious, drone vibe. With acoustic guitar amidst a spacey backdrop, and laced with tripped-out lyrics, this song could be a potential vehicle for deeply layered ambient explorations. With a mellow entry point, this song could easily provide a landing point for darker improvisation.
“Gone,” which Trey debuted in stripped down fashion back in Brooklyn during August of ’08, appears on Party Time in a much-enhanced version that sounds like a fully-realized Phish song. Another one of Trey’s solo efforts that reflects upon the turmoil he has now overcome, “Gone” features a series of heartfelt lyrics that will no doubt draw flak from the scene’s cynics. With lush vocal harmonies the behind the main verses, this song illustrates the band’s vocal strength these days. With a shuffle beat that pushes the song along, this could easily develop into melodic vehicle for something more than a guitar solo in the vein of “Number Line.”
“Only A Dream” is an outright Mike Gordon rock song that one might expect to hear on a solo album rather than a Phish record. With heavy bass patterns and an odd cadence, it will be interesting to see what the band makes of this in their live setting. Comprised of interesting rhythms and a completely different sound, this could be one path towards unique 3.0 rock jams.
“If I Told You,” a song written by Page, introduces the most unique sound on Party Time – an earnest entry into Phishtronica! If the band chooses to jam in and out of this song during their sets, the results could be mind-boggling. Hinting at the modern genre of indie-electronica, this song represents the most divergent recorded Phish to date. With a glitchy beat and synthesized lasers of sound, this could drive Phish into completely new psychedelic realms.
Following up the most futuristic Phish on the album is a throw back to the folk era in the gorgeous piece, “Splinters of Hail.” With this delicate, acoustic track that could be easily mistaken for Simon and Garfunkel, Phish again presents a totally new musical concept. Easily adaptable to their electric set, “Splinters of Hail” is a prime candidate for a late-second set slot. Blossoming with layered vocals and a refrain of “Turn Around,” this song will be mesmerizing live.
“Can’t Come Back” sounds like it could be a different band altogether. Another Gordon original, this track carries a melancholy feel that merges the psych-pop of The Beatles with the “beautiful gloom” of Radiohead, while polished with a Phishy twist. “Can’t Come Back” could really open up new musical doors for the band should they choose to explore it, and odds are they will. “Shrine,” a playful Anastasio-Marshall tune with an island vibe, could lead the band into percussive quasi-reggae grooves; but it could just as easily be left unplayed.
The album’s final track, “Liquid Time” follows in line with the Trey’ recent topic of musical reflection – the passage of time. Sounding like a Dire Straits piece through the beginning verses, we have already heard the band’s willingness to explore this tale during its ten-plus minute rendition during Festival 8’s soundcheck. A seeming confirmation that we will be hearing “Liquid Time” before the week is out, this one will certainly lead into brand new Phish jams out of its layered vocal round.
Characterized my a more mature, mellow, and layered psychedelia, these tracks off Party Time could be indicative of Phish’s next musical direction. With songs that offer original and mystical music coupled with amazing vocals, the band’s next turn may be one away from bombast but towards greater musical depth. Boasting a plethora of unique material, Party Time represents a distinct departure from the straight-forward rock and roll of Joy. With new ground waiting to be broken, and new vehicles with which to get there, Phish embarks on fall tour with the limitless potential for musical adventure. And it will begin to unfold tomorrow night!
Jam of the Day:
“You Enjoy Myself” 12.29.98
A classic version with nary a wasted note.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
10.24.95 Dane County Coliseum, Madison, WI < Megaupload
Coming at you via reader request, this will be the last download before Fall Tour. Enjoy!
I: My Friend, My Friend, Paul and Silas, Taste That Surrounds*, Fee > Llama, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Demand > Maze, Wolfman’s, Brother, Acoustic Army, Prince Caspian, Split Open and Melt
II: Julius, Theme From the Bottom, Bouncing Around the Room, You Enjoy Myself > Sleeping Monkey*, Run Like an Antelope, Contact, Cavern
E: A Day in the Life
*debut of this arrangement, ** Started a cappella out of vocal jam
Source: Neumann KM140 > Beyer MV100 > Sony D7