The concept is irresistibly rich—young musician goes home to his parents' house, finds an empty cassette case for Black Flag's Damaged, and tries to remake the album from memory—but it would be a mistake to hear Rise Above as a mere conceptual exercise. For one thing, Dirty Projectors couldn't sound less beholden to the source material. Barely a note of "punk" rage plays out in songs as elaborately restructured and emotionally reconstituted as "No More," which laces cries of "I need action" with haunting harmonies and quasi-African guitars. Dirty Projectors leader Dave Longstreth clearly had more than a remake on his mind—a mind whose wandering ways will be worth following for years to come.
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