While the apple doesn't usually fall from the tree, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio actually swims fairly far from his band's favored spawning ground on this live solo set. Then again, Anastasio -- with or without his usual bandmates -- normally covers a wide enough swath of territory to ensure that he seldom doubles back. For much of the double-disc Plasma, he eschews his familiar wiry, jazzy jamming style in favor of a chunky riffing redolent of African highlife music (on "Mozambique") and old-school reggae (most obviously on a cover of Bob Marley's "Small Axe"). Anastasio's willingness to cede the spotlight to his backing band -- particularly a charged five-person horn section -- adds to the party vibe, as does the unflaggingly churning bottom end that burbles beneath songs like "Magilla" and "Curlew's Call." Although the material included here was culled from several different shows, the tunes are spliced together so cleverly (especially the 20-plus-minute "Inner Tube," which is stitched from both studio and live recordings) that Anastasio seems to lead listeners on an unbroken line from first brew to closing time.
I recently previewed this cd at a listening party and it's fanatastic. It's got the same vibe as his last album, but Trey doesn't seem as self counscious or deeply paranoid as he did on his last album. There are a few star tracks which feature an all-star cast of musicians, so get ready for some great tunes!