One of Phish.net's most prolific reviewers, W H @waxbanks, has written an insightful piece on his blog (blog.waxbanks.net) comparing the music of the Grateful Dead to that of Phish. He sees them as polar opposites with Phish's music being built around order (or structure) and the Dead's being built around disorder.
With his permission, we are re-blogging his piece on the Phish.net site. p.s. If you're a Dead fan, you may well be interested in his recent piece on tribute bands, particularly Furthur, and I found my self shaking my head in agreement with @waxbank's take on Obama taboot. Good stuff!
Without further ado:
"The home state of Phish's improvisatory music is order (or structure). They depart productively from it, and play against it, entering states of tense, nervewracking disorder. But they always want to resolve, to cohere. Their improvisatory structures (like the two chords of the 'Bowie' jam, with their many modal suggestions) are centers of gravity; that's why they can swing wildly away from them and return surefooted, time after time. Their improvisations are famously architectural and coherent, as are Trey Anastasio's unique full-band written arrangements. The flip side of this strength-in-order is that their experiments in purely Free jamming have rarely been wholly successful, though they've gotten much better at it over the last ~30 years. And for a long time they were afraid to be emotionally wild, preferring intellectual experimentation - at some cost to the overall musical vibe."
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