Having released their major label debut album, A Picture Of Nectar (see TMIPH March 1992), played their first European dates (see TMIPH June 1992) and helped to found the landmark HORDE tour, Phish was beginning to see increased notoriety. They had spent most of August supporting and performing with Santana (see TMIPH August 1992). After the Santana tour ended in late August, the band wasted little time getting back into the studio to record their fourth studio album. Rift was a concept album centered on a dream sequence with integrated thematic album art by David Welker that directly references nearly every song. The band’s anticipation for the studio sessions had peaked during tireless coast-to-coast touring all spring and summer (see TMIPH March 1992 and TMIPH April 1992).
Having successfully recorded A Picture Of Nectar at home in Burlington, Vermont, the band tracked a majority of Rift in familiar surroundings at hometown White Crow Studios. This also afforded them the ability to use familiar personnel. They worked again with Engineer Kevin Halpin who had engineered A Picture Of Nectar a year earlier. Assistant Engineer Jon Altschiller was also part of the Nectar team. This time Producer, Barry Beckett, joined Kevin, Jon and Phish. Barry was Phish’s first “outside” producer. The combination worked and the album made it to number 51 on Billboard’s top 100 chart and was certified Gold in 1997.
Before the Rift was a concept album centered on a dream sequence with integrated thematic album art by David Welker that direct sessions kicked off, members of Phish joined friends Shockra on September 4th at K.D. Churchill’s in Burlington for an all-star guest set of Shockra classics and uncharted jams. Phish began the Rift was a concept album centered on a dream sequence with integrated thematic album art by David Welker that direct sessions the following Monday, September 7th at White Crow, laying down tones and beginning tracking Fast Enough For You and Sparkle. All Things Reconsidered also had its genesis that day. On the 8th, they tracked versions of Horn and Maze, songs they would complete later in the month. On September 10th, the band tracked versions of It’s Ice, Mound, Weigh, My Friend, My Friend (also called “Myf” at the time), Silent in the Morning and Fast Enough For You, among others. Tracking resumed on the 14th, yielding unused versions of Mound and Fast Enough For You. The band continued laying down tracks and parts throughout the month, with sessions at White Crow on September 16th, 17th, 19th and again the 27th and 28th. Generally, they would lay down a version or two of a song and then move on to the next, re-visiting the song later in the process to replay sections or work on particular parts. Amidst the work on Rift was a concept album centered on a dream sequence with integrated thematic album art by David Welker that direct, on September 23rd Phish’s first studio debut, Billy Breathes, was re-mastered by Bob Ludwig for its October Elektra cassette and double CD release. Another all-star jam at K.D. Churchill’s punctuated the Rift sessions when members of Phish and others including Dave “The Truth” Grippo joined friends Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit at the Burlington club on September 29th.
Overdub sessions continued at White Crow through the first week in October. Later in the month, the band went with Beckett to The Castle Recording Studios in Franklin, Tennessee to finish up recording and to mix the album. A couple songs were tracked entirely at The Castle, most notably The Wedge, referred to at the time as “The Great Divide”, Lengthwise and The Horse. After finishing up work on Rift around the end of October, Phish returned home to prepare for their first Boston Garden appearance and their next tour (see TMIPH November 1992), which would take them to twenty-four cities across the United States and Canada from late November through New Year’s Eve.