The Rapture Is Risen

“I remember being out in the park playing softball, and they were having this concert at the Prospect Park bandshell, and I remember hearing this band do sound check. It was really profound moment. I was like, Wait, what am I doing? I came back to the band, and I said I was really sorry, and to please let me come back.” They agreed, but when Jenner returned, it was the beginning of the end for Safer. “At one point, I remember very clearly Mattie saying, ‘What I really want to do is make a record that you don’t play on,’” recalls Jenner. It seems Safer had had his taste of what The Rapture without Jenner might be like, and he couldn’t reconcile it being any other way.

Safer describes his falling out with the band much like one would describe falling out of love. “I think what had sort of been a good creative tension had gone to being a rubber band that’s been stretched too far and has lost its snap,” he says. It was like he and The Rapture had become two different people. Safer explains that their musical interests drifted, and that he’d often come home from band practices and listen to R&B records. “It was something I always tried to bring into the band. I wasn’t alone in that, but I remember bringing in records that were pushed aside, like Earth Wind & Fire, or Motown or Four Tops records. Basically, I just followed the music that was in my heart. And it was something that just didn’t make sense in that context anymore. It needed a life of its own, and that is why I had to leave.” Safer’s yet-to-be-released solo record, a heartfelt collection of R&B songs, feels true to this desire.

After Safer quit the band in April 2009, the threesome regrouped and embarked on “the two-and-a-half month” version of writing the album, essentially starting from scratch. Jenner had written a bunch of songs that he brought to the table, and Roccoforte and Andruzzi had space to spread out and fill in their texture, creating a concrete, driving rhythm that could juxtapose and highlight Andruzzi’s free jazz inflections with more than a few tracks ending in diffuse sax improvisation. “Before, I really felt that my role in the band was to gild things,” Andruzzi explains. “This record was the first time I really contributed to the center or the form across the board.” The band also had the freedom to choose their own producer and settled on the French musician, Phillipe Zdar, who’d just completed work on Phoenix’s Grammy-winning album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Zdar had at first demurred, saying he was too tired and burnt out to work, but after hearing the demo, reconsidered and flew out to Brooklyn to do the tracking in December 2009.

That February, The Rapture went to Paris for three weeks to record with Zdar, an experience that seemed to be unanimously positive for both the band and the producer. “Each one of them is like a pillar of the sound,” Zdar explains, in an exuberant, heavily-accented English. “It’s not only one guy who is doing the beat, one as the bass and one who is making the harmony and singing. They are all colliding in some way and bringing something great.” For The Rapture, working with Zdar undoubtedly reignited a flame that had long since extinguished during their time at Universal, reminding them of the old days at DFA—the joy of collaborating with an equal and a friend, but with the strength and maturity to stand on their own, solidly united. The result is a slick and jammy pop album that takes some deeply dark matter and sublimates it hook after hook. There’s a moment on “How Deep is Your Love?” where almost all the synth and rhythm fall away—save for a few soulful handclaps accompanied by a stripped-down piano—and a chorus of Jenner, redoubled, calls out, How deep is your love?/ Oh, how deep is your love?/ How deep is your love? The gospel-inflected call and response is then underscored by Andruzzi’s horn, a slow, psychic trill, which resurrects Roccoforte’s beat, and shines through to the end of the track.

“It comes down to the meaning of life,” Jenner ventures, drawing a broad stroke, which he quickly narrows. “I think intimacy is really what I want in my life. At the end of the day, I’m in a band with a drummer I’ve known since I was nine, and in a lot of ways, that’s what’s kept me alive. It was like my first marriage. We’ve become incredibly faithful to each other. I could make music without this guy, but I don’t want to.” Just as The Rapture could be another kind of band, or be on another kind of label, there’s a point when you go back to the beginning. As Jonathan Galkin tells the story of The Rapture coming back to DFA, “Luke just showed up at the DFA office one day, totally out of the blue…” Older and much clearer about the person he is and the person he wants to be, Jenner expressed his regrets about the past, said he was sorry. But more importantly, he told Galkin about the new Rapture record he really wanted him to hear. “And the next day he and Vito came to the office to play me the record,” Galkin deadpans. “Thank god it was good.”

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POSTED August 18, 2011 9:36AM IN FEATURES TAGS: , ,

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