Following the 2006 EP New Attitude, Longstreth went to help his parents move out of the house he grew up in. Among his youthful artifacts was the cassette case from the Black Flag album Damaged. This brought back all sorts of memories – Black Flag was one of Longstreth’s first loves – but the tape itself was missing. So, like the character in the Jorge Luis Borges story “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” who sets out to recreate Don Quixote line by line from memory, Longstreth went to the nearest Guitar Center, purchased the cheapest cassette four-track he could find, and embarked on recasting Damaged from memory, without re-listening to a single note or reading any lyrics. The ten songs that make up Rise Above (titled after one of the tracks on Damaged) stem from these four-track demos, recorded at his parents house on an acoustic guitar.
All that Jorge Luis Borges-inspired jive might just be hot wind if Rise Above weren’t such a hell of a record on its own terms. It resounds with a kind of elegant simplicity: beautiful interlocking guitar parts, gorgeous three-part vocal harmonies, and some great songwriting. Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear manned the knobs, giving Rise Above the same rich sound that he brought to his own band’s acclaimed album Yellow House. Longstreth used the same musicians that appeared on the US tour on which he debuted these songs, and Rise Above captures the inventiveness and raw power of Dirty Projectors’ live arrangements at long last.
For a taste from Rise Above look no further than this MP3 of “No More”.
Pitchfork , The Fader, Gorilla vs. Bear and Fluxblog all seem as enthused as we are about Rise Above, which arrives in stores on September 11, 2007.