To Destroy A City: Rebuild

Rebuild isn't the formal sequel to To Destroy A City's self-titled debut album but instead a seven-track set of reinterpretations by Dalot, Lights Out Asia, Boy Is Fiction, and others of the earlier recording's pieces. Had the versions been available at the time of the original album's release, they would have made for a fabulous companion disc within a double-CD release. As it is, Rebuild, while not offering new material by the band, will likely send listeners back to the debut if they missed it the first time around. At the same time, the release also serves as an extended promo for n5MD, given the associations with the label the interpreters bring to the project.

Solar Fields' episodic “March” gradually comes into focus with woozy keyboard chords rising out of a synthetic haze, before making good on n5MD's “emotional experiments in music” credo when an explosive climax pushes the sound into ecstatic post-rock territory. The tune's piano-centric focus segues fluidly into Dalot's “Goodbye, Dear Friend,” which expands after its introductory piano motif into a sunshower of pulsating bass lines and wordless vocal swirls, with all of it surprisingly powered by a galloping techno groove. Slowing the tempo slightly, Boy Is Fiction opts for atmospheric dreamscaping in his “Narcotic Sea” makeover, with piano and synthesizers functioning as the core elements within the transporting mix. Winterlight likewise gravitates towards a more soothing handling of To Destroy A City's “Goodbye, Dear Friend,” with the result a towering, six-minute exercise in luscious slow-burn. In keeping with the cut-throat spirit of the title, Connectedness Locus's “Philosophy of a Knife” adds a dark electronica dimension to the recording in its foreboding tone and heavy percussive attack. At disc's end, the appearance of vocals on Lights Out Asia's “March” changes things up a tad but the track otherwise hews to the general luscious character of the set.

The contributors rise to the occasion by infusing the high energy of the uplifting originals with their own emotionally charged and oft-epic interpretations. Anything but slapdash affairs, they're all thoroughly developed and thoughtfully conceived. At the same time, To Destroy A City's music serves as the unifying element such that the seven versions feel related, no matter the differences between the interpreters. The Chicago-based trio (Andrew Welch, Jeff Anderson, and Michael Marshall) should have no reservations about including Rebuild in its discography, even if much of the work comes from others.

December 2012