Digital Delay Loop Jam
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
The “Digital Delay Loop Jam” or “DDLJ,” because of its appearance in several legendary Phish shows, is also known as “The Big Show Jam” in certain circles. That is to say, if this foray into the milieu of Discipline-era King Crimson descends from on high to flange your eardrums, you can rest assured that you are likely listening to one of the more “epic” shows that Phish has played. The “DDLJ” is a simple ascending Trey lick loop; over and around which various members of the band fill space to create texture and ambiance. Although there is slight variation to the musical structure that is created, the ascending loop in each case is what defines the “DDLJ.” Although there are many jams which feature delay loops, especially since the release of “Ghost” and “Gotta Jibboo,” there are few which actually ARE the “DDLJ.” For the true gear-head, the thing that actually defines the “DDLJ” is the piece of hardware Trey uses to generate the loop. All of the “DDLJ” loops are the product of Trey’s Ibanez DM 2000 Digital Delay; whereas the “Ghost” style loops which are more prevalent since 1997 are generated by a Boomerang phrase sampler.
The first appearance of the “DDLJ” (4/8/94 State College, PA) was not by any means one of the aforementioned big shows, however, the version of “It’s Ice” in which it first appeared is certainly worth a listen. The “DDLJ” next appeared as a curious bridge between “Makisupa Policeman” and a “Sweet Emotion” jam during the legendary 5/7/94 Bomb Factory second set “Tweezer”-fest. After another brief appearance in a not so critically acclaimed show (6/14/94 Des Moines, IA), Phish then made it a habit to only allow the “DDLJ” to be released from its causal space at big events including: in a “TMWSIY” sandwich during a consensus top 10 show of all time 6/22/94 Columbus, OH; in an epic “David Bowie” during the 12/29/94 holiday run show in Providence, RI; a raging “Mike’s Song” during the 12/31/95 NYE show at MSG; once again associated with “TMWSIY” during the 12/28/96 holiday run show at the Spectrum; the Great Went “Scent of a Mule” on 8/17/97 which included teases of “London Bridge” during the jam; and most recently disguised as “Quadrophonic Toppling” during the 12/31/99 midnight to sunrise set at Big Cypress.
The Ibanez DM 2000 remains a fixture in Trey’s arsenal of effects so another “DDLJ” is always possible. Considering the string of shows in which it has appeared, one can only hope to be there when it returns again, and again, and again, and again.