Rift is a concept album based on one night in a man’s sleep cycle as he dreams about the rift in his relationship. The album was recorded in September and October 1992 at White Crow Studios in Burlington, Vermont on 24-track 2" tape by Engineer Kevin Halpin assisted by Jon Altschiller. It was there that Gordon Stone added haunting pedal steel guitar to “Fast Enough For You.” Muscle Shoals Producer Barry Beckett and a team of several Nashville engineers were brought in for additional sessions and mixing at Franklin, Tennessee’s historic Castle Recording Studios in late October and November.
Rift introduced a cohesive set of complex compositions sequenced to deliver the narrative and imagery of a fractured romance. Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall wrote eleven songs on the album, Mike Gordon contributed two more - “Mound” and “Weigh”, and Jon Fishman’s “Lengthwise” appeared on the album twice. Almost all the material was developed live before the album was recorded – much of it debuted in a few big chunks in 1991 and 1992. The title track, created in sections between 1987 to 1992, has more history. The melody grew out of the instrumental “With” section of The Curtain With, which was performed live from Summer 1987 to Summer 1988. The nascent lyrics were incorporated almost two years later in 1990 and “Rift” was played basically in its entirety a half dozen times that year. “Rift” was then shelved and re-introduced in 1992 (as heard on the album) with a faster tempo and slightly reworked lyrics.