After discovering his empty cassette case for Black Flag’s seminal Damaged at the house he grew up in, Dave Longstreth (of Dirty Projectors) did not go out and buy a new copy in order to revisit one of his first favorite records — he went to Guitar Center, bought a four-track and decided to rewrite the album himself, completely from memory. From those demos spawned by this peculiar and ambitious idea comes Rise Above, the Dirty Projectors’ fully developed conception of a preexisting record that falls somewhere between cover album, homage, and original creation.
Apart from the excellent concept underpinning this album, it’s also executed exceptionally well. A very different and more challenging listen than the original, the Dirty Projectors version is dominated by dissonant pop overtones, soaring three-part vocal harmonies, Longstreth’s tortured, off-kilter lead vocals, and intricate guitar riffs that push parts of the record into near math rock territory. On top of the compositional achievements, Chris Taylor (of Grizzly Bear) lends his production skills for Rise Above and instills these sparse recordings with a stunningly full sound.
I am particularly enjoying a number of works this year that manage to unite the beautiful, the grating, and the strange into truly compelling albums. Rise Above is definitely one of those records, and it’s also one of the most interesting (and rewarding) projects of the year. I highly recommend picking it up when it comes out on September 11th. Until then, check out the incredible reinventions of “No More” and “Depression”, two of my favorite tracks on the album.
Download: Dirty Projectors – No More