Phish frontman Trey Anastasio’s latest solo effort,
Seis De Mayo, is a mish-mash of African rhythmic tunes,
string quartet compositions and fully orchestrated pieces that
combine to form a measly seven-track album. But here’s the
kicker: five of those tracks are reworked versions of Phish songs.
That’s quite a lure for Phishheads, but it’s nothing
special for those who want to see if Trey can exist outside of the
legendary jamband (he can, as proven by last year’s
self-titled album). Though the point of the album is to be
different, it’s hard not to make expectations based on
Phish’s performances. It’s even harder not to draw
comparisons once these expectations have been formed.

These comparisons are both a blessing and a curse. On the one
hand, there is the string quartet arrangement of Phish’s
“All Things Reconsidered.” The shrill and awkwardly
timed strings add new insight to the song, beginning with blissful
harmony and slowly transitioning to brutal cacophony. But then
there are songs like “The Inlaw Josie Wales,” which
sounds nearly identical to Phish’s version with the exception
of some added strings. This conjures little emotion except for a
yearning to hear the original.

Contrasted with orchestral works like these, the two beat-heavy
(and non-Phish) songs seem out of place. “Andre the
Giant” features a fairly unremarkable use of the balafon, and
“Coming To” sounds like a track that was deemed too
extreme for Trey’s last album. They’re not bad songs,
but they don’t sound right given the nature of the other
tracks.

The piece de resistance of Seis De Mayo is “Guyute
(Orchestral),” a 66-piece orchestral version of the Phish
classic. This shouldn’t be anything new to devout
“phans” who have heard the Vermont Youth
Orchestra’s previous recording, but it adds necessary weight
to this album, which clocks in at only 29 minutes.
“Guyute” does a good job of summing up Seis De
Mayo
, containing a few beautiful intricacies but often
suffering from excessive instrumentation and the inability to
measure up to Phish’s original. For anyone who views the
compositions of Trey and Phish as musical perfection, anything less
can be hard to swallow.

 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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