not much of a Phish fan, too much jammin'
not so with this album
just misses the mark
1.6 from me and a converted 2.2 from the pros at allmusic
from the album - Corona
released Oct 16th, 2012
Bio - from allmusic
Since co-founding the seminal improv rock outfit Phish in 1983, guitarist, composer, and songwriter Trey Anastasio
has explored a wide variety of musical pathways ranging from atonal fugues and elaborate charts with Phish to
adventurous free jazz on his first solo project, Surrender to the Air (1996), to collaborations with the likes of
Tom Marshall, Les Claypool, Philip Glass, Stewart Copeland, and others. After Phish went on long-term hiatus in late
2000, Anastasio focused on a myriad of projects, including Oysterhead and his eight-piece solo band.
Born Ernest Joseph Anastasio III in 1964, Anastasio attended Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey, where he
met future songwriting partner Tom Marshall. As a teenager, he helped his mother, Dina, write songs for children's
records. At the University of Vermont, he teamed up with bassist Mike Gordon, drummer Jon Fishman, and guitarist
Jeff Holdsworth to form Phish. After being suspended from the university for a semester for a prank gone awry,
Anastasio transferred to the highly experimental Goddard College outside of Burlington, where he studied intensely
with composer Ernie Stires while writing and rehearsing Phish's complicated early material. Soon after, Holdsworth
was replaced by keyboardist Page McConnell.
Phish remained Anastasio's primary musical outlet for the duration of the '80s and the '90s, as his original work
progressed from lengthy prog-influenced compositions, such as "You Enjoy Myself" of the mid-'80s, to the more
focused (though still complex) songs of Rift (1993). While Phish placed more and more emphasis on group
improvisation, Anastasio's charts gradually fell by the wayside. In 1996, he organized and produced Surrender to the
Air, a big-band free jazz excursion with Sun Ra saxman Marshall Allen, organist John Medeski, avant-garde guitarist
Marc Ribot, experimental drummer Bob Gullotti, and many others. Though Anastasio was nominally the leader of the
project, he played as an equal member of a large group of downtown heavyweights.
The transformation of Anastasio's work from composition-based to improvisation-based was completed in 1997 and 1998
with The Story of the Ghost and The Siket Disc, two Phish releases chiseled out of hours of collective jamming
overseen by producer John Siket. Anastasio's ongoing collaboration with Tom Marshall also resulted in a bevy of new
material, far too much for Phish to assimilate into their already gigantic live repertoire. Though Anastasio brought
some of the songs to his newly formed side trio, he still felt he was holding back. Phish performed at a massively
successful New Year's celebration in Big Cypress, Florida, and in 2000 came the release of Farmhouse (entirely
written and produced by Anastasio), but given the band's increasingly unfocused live performances, Phish decided to
take a hiatus of an undetermined length beginning in October of that year.
Anastasio went right to work, scoring an arrangement of the Phish song "Guyute" (one of his last multi-sectioned
compositions) for the Vermont Youth Orchestra with mentor Ernie Stires. Following its performance, he hit the road
with a horn-bolstered version of his side trio and almost a dozen new songs, many of which returned to the
complicated work of years past. Soon after, he wrote and recorded an album with Oysterhead, a power trio including
Anastasio, Primus bassist Les Claypool, and former Police drummer Stewart Copeland, beginning a new chapter in his
musical history. His time spent with Oysterhead was experimental, but not permanent. By early 2002, Anastasio
prepped for his proper solo release for Elektra. His groovy cool self-titled album was issued that April and
Anastasio returned to the road for a string of U.S. tour dates.
The live effort Plasma appeared in April 2003, showcasing more than two hours of performances from Anastasio's 2002
summer/fall trek of North America. Seven brand-new tracks and a few covers were sprinkled into the double-disc set
as well. The all-instrumental Seis de Mayo was released in April 2004, followed by Shine in 2005 and Bar 17 in 2006.
The stopgap but quite effective The Horseshoe Curve, comprised of various tracks recorded between 2004 and 2007,
appeared in 2007 while Anastasio was doing time at a court-ordered drug rehab program. The unified Time Turns
Elastic, which paired the guitarist with Don Hart, was released in 2009. TAB at the Tab, a live album with the
traditional four-piece expanded to a septet to include additional horns, was recorded at Atlanta's famed Tabernacle
theater and released in 2010. After touring with Phish for almost two years, Anastasio returned to the studio and
emerged with Traveler.
Album Review - from allmusic
Traveler is Trey Anastasio's first studio solo album since 2009's orchestral art pop sleeper Time Turns Electric.
Peter Katis was enlisted as co-producer; his résumé includes work with the National, Interpol, and Jónsi. Along with
the Trey Anastasio Band (TAB), the credits are littered with guest appearances from violist and violinist Rob Moose
(Bon Iver), vocalist Kori Gardner (Mates of State), and the National's Matt Berninger and Bryan Devendorf. There are
a few completely new tracks here, while the balance includes studio takes on tunes played live by either TAB or
Phish. As a solo artist, Anastasio's recordings are usually quite consistent, and Traveler is no exception. The
set's first single is a new song, "Scabbard." Anastasio crams in his love of Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Radiohead,
and pop music. That said, it contains his signature ability to capture a simple melody -- in this case three,
simultaneously -- and wrap them in an accessible but harmonically and dynamically adventurous package. His singing,
along with help from backing vocalists Natalie Cressman and Jennifer Hartswick, makes the cut a clear standout. Also
included here is the third, and perhaps most successful, studio version of "Let Me Lie," and a studio take on the
labyrinthine, reggae-drenched prog that is "Land of Nod." And speaking of reggae, perhaps the album's biggest
surprise is the cover of the Gorillaz's "Clint Eastwood." While the band has been playing it live for nearly two
years, this reading underscores the punchy vocal by Hartswick. "Valentine," which appeared on the live TAB at the
TAB in 2010, is treated to a horn-saturated workout here. And in spite of its weave of shimmering synths and tom-tom
heavy drumkits and layered vocals, it feels nearly organic. Other highlights include studio versions of the elegiac
ballad "Frost" (with gorgeous strings courtesy of Rob Moose), and the raggedy pop/rocker "Pigtail," with its light,
funky backbeat and locked-down bassline. Given all the recent activity by Phish and TAB, Traveler reveals that with
its four brand-new songs and revisioned versions of live staples, Anastasio's creative force is healthy and his
taste is, as ever, impeccable.
2. Let Me Lie
4. Land of Nod
7. Clint Eastwood