In and Out of Focus

In and out of focus, time turns elastic

In and out of focus…

In and out of focus, time turns…

Music exists as a medium that mirrors the human experience; a way to evoke wordless feelings, a way to talk when language can no longer describe.  In the truest sense, this was the essence of Trey’s orchestral opus, Time Turns Elastic. Debuted in Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on Saturday night, Trey’s autobiographical piece narrated the story of his past few years, while obliterating traditional boundaries of classical music.  Standing humbly, center stage with his Languedoc, Trey wove melodic and lyrical tales of his life within the rich musical tapestry of an avant garde orchestra.  Very much a part of the orchestra’s palate, rather than playing on top of it, this performance focused on the music as a work rather than someone playing guitar.

photo - Bill Kucinski

photo - Bill Kucinski

With an elegant program specifically designed around Times Turns Elastic, Orchestra Nashville played a first set of relevant orchestral pieces.  Opening with an introductory piece without Trey, director Paul Gambill, then then welcomed him to the stage for a breathtaking rendition of Divided Sky.  Playing in an incredibly delicate and understated fashion, he worked his way through the Phish classic that was presented as a straight piece of the program with no specific introduction.  He then sat in as part of “Concertino,” with a with group of two mandolin players, and played acoustic guitar while sitting in the back row as part of the orchestra- one of the most ego-less things Trey has ever done on stage.  The set featured two more symphonic pieces, the last, “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” a Ravel piece that greatly inspired Trey and influenced the opening movement of Time Turns Elastic, as Gambill explained. Yet, the evening was focused on the music after intermission.

Surprisingly subtle, and distinctly non-Phishy, Trey delicately played through the debut of his piece with a clear sense of deep emotion.  Yet, as we are accustomed to hearing Trey speak to us through his cosmic guitar fury, this time he had over 25 people to help him share his thoughts.  This changed the dynamic of the concert, a story was told collectively as opposed to his upcoming tour, which represents more of a monologue.  As life, Time Turns Elastic contained a distinct ebb and a flow to its emotional color, moving through playful and pensive, uplifting and somber segments.  Comprised of two movements, the first instrumental, and the second, complete with whimsical poetic verses, this performance was one of the most unique nights of Trey’s musical journey.  As lyrical segments emerged, lending a Broadway-eque feel, Trey sang delicately, using as his voice as yet another instrument to add to the symphonic whole; an instrument, interestingly enough, often more prominent than his guitar.  Staring into his magical space above, Trey shared his words in a gentler way, greatly divergent from his arena-rock norm.  Taking a complete 180 degree turn from a normal Trey-based event, the spotlight was less focused on him than ever, despite his stage positioning.

photo - Bill Kucinski

photo - Bill Kucinski

In and out of focus, time turns elastic

In and out of focus…

In and out of focus, time turns…

Sounding like the musical backdrop to a dream, Trey provided heartfelt accents and melodies to the music, as his notes seemed to float on the orchestra’s musical ocean, navigating the forty minute piece.  The second, and far longer movement, saw Trey layering his self-reflective symbolic poetry over the music, each part having its own name, though there was no break in the music.  Picking up momentum during the last segment, “Carousel,” Trey’s guitar became far more prominent and pronounced as the piece built to its final peak.

In and out of focus, time turns elastic

In and out of focus…

In and out of focus, time turns…

photo - Bill Kucinski

photo - Bill Kucinski

Though poetry can be interpreted in countless ways, being someone who wholeheartedly believes that Trey, despite his repertoire of side projects, is truly all about Phish, this is my take.  This consistent reprise of this verse, and accompanying melody, throughout the movement brought out the meaning of the tale.  From the time around Phish ended, he has moved in and out of focus, grappling with the various realities that have confronted him.  Yet, with every part of unfocused life will inevitably come the counterpart of living in a directed and intuitive way.  We become lost and then find ourselves again, and Trey has found himself again.  Time is what we make of it, often stretched and pulled to extremes, as life’s challenges and successes bring us on the universal roller coaster.  Through these times, he never lost sight of his heart; he never lost sight of Phish.

And when its time, the landslide

will free what froze inside

While all around the rocks collide

You finally see the lines

That point toward the light that

never dies

photo - Bill Kucinski

photo - Bill Kucinski

The landslide has come.  Time is thawing the frozen part of Trey’s life, the part that has always made him the happiest.  As he pondered his future throughout the past years, the light and hope of Phish, that would bring him back into focus once again, never died.  Like the sun of your soul, while it can get shaded, it can never be extinguished.  As we all anticipate the future of Phish, the future of our own musical journies, we can feel assured that Trey is right there with us and just as excited as we are.

And this life, it’s bending and

swelling around me

Turning and peeling into the

mist around me

And the winds all rising in the west

around me

And the carousel turns into

breath around me

In and out of focus, time turns


Time turns….

The final lyric of the piece suggests hope- hope that life again will turn another page and the winds will lift us back into the sky.  Breathing life into a once lifeless force, hope is bringing Phish back again.  Time turns; we turn too.  The light never dies.


Clip #2

Clip # 3 (Unembeddable)


Trey @ Nashville FLACs

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9 Responses to “In and Out of Focus”

  1. kbill23 Says:

    wow, great pictures

  2. Hidden Track » Hors d’Oeuvres: Fast Enough For You Says:

    […] Miner reviews Trey Anastasio’s Time Turns Elastic […]

  3. lanser Says:

    and when its time, the landslide will free what was froze inside.$$$$$$$

  4. CuriousGeorge Says:

    Did Trey change clothes?

    Why are the clips different from the photos?

  5. James Says:

    Oh man, such chills during divided sky!! Look out world, Trey is back and Phish will dominate once again!!

  6. Case Says:

    Time Turns Elastic was phenomenal, fantastic. The clips with Trey in the blue jacket are from the dress rehearsal in the afternoon. The photos with him in the green suit are from the concert. I am hoping for a recording.

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    download of this will be up within hours on this site 🙂

  8. Scott Says:

    I think Trey still improvised a lot during Divided, and the orchestra had a tough time catching up. He paused a lot to build tension, and they didn’t really follow it… damn classically trained musicians with their sheet music and such.

  9. Matso Says:

    As much as I also hope that a significant part of what keeps Trey healthy and alive in the coming years is another creative phase with Phish, I wonder too if part of the “light that never dies” might be Trey’s family. As far as I know, Trey got married first out of all the band members and is the only one who isn’t divorced and/or remarried.

    If that family stuck together through his various excesses and bad behaviour, there has to be a lot of very deep love underlying it. I’ve always felt that Trey is decent person and I tend to think that he would also do right by his wife and daughters. A big work like Time Turns Elastic, which he’s obviously spent a lot of time composing and into which he’s put so much heart, must surely also be, in part at least, a dedication to them.

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