Phish is best known for its live shows. With performances that seem more like improvisational on-stage jam sessions than constructed, rehearsed productions, Phish has built a reputation as the best live act around.
With its latest release, The Story of the Ghost (Elektra), Phish continues to illustrate its less heralded, but equally impressive prowess in the studio. The Story of the Ghost is the eighth album recorded by Phish since the founding of the band in 1984. With each new album, the band moves into new territory, expanding and refining its music at the same time. This one is no different.
The band’s most polished album to date, The Story of the Ghost displays the smooth sound that Phish has embraced and perfected during its years of recording and performing. By weaving a variety of influences and themes into a comprehensive collection of songs that reveals a profound understanding and exploration of the group’s musical potential, band members, once again, show how multifaceted and complex their talent is.
With tracks that range from the funk-laced “Ghost” to the hit single “Birds of a Feather” to the melodic “Wading in the Velvet Sea,” The Story of the Ghost flows evenly through themes of love, loss and the transitory nature of life. The songs touch on how popularity comes and goes and how celebrity is just an image, a facade behind which is emptiness. It seems the band members are looking for a bit more than money and stardom in their old age.
In “The Moma Dance,” the last track on the album, the band says “the moment ends.” But as far as Phish and the band’s fans are concerned, the moment is far from ending. Phish clearly has an abundance of musical surprises up its sleeve and a long, successful road ahead.