Dave Depper

The Ram Project

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Re-recording classic rock albums has been an indie staple stretching back to the ‘80s, when Pussy Galore did their own cassette-only spin on Exile on Main St. and Sonic Youth were long rumored to cover the White Album in its entirety, but Portland indie musician Dave Depper’s 2011 The Ram Project has more in common with Karl Wallinger’s alleged practice of re-recording the Beatles catalog: it’s a re-creation, not an interpretation. To jolt himself out of a creative malaise, he set out to replicate Paul McCartney’s legendary shaggy homemade record Ram on his own, enlisting Joan Hiller for Linda McCartney harmonies. McCartney may have done Ram largely on his own in 1971 and Depper certainly has access to more at-home studio trickery in 2011 but what’s remarkable is that The Ram Project often feels as warm and ramshackle itself, Depper showing considerable skill at aural painting, using precisely the right amount of reverb, adeptly overdubbing to provide space and color. As a sheer sonic achievement, it’s quite impressive and even if it doesn’t replace Ram -- something it was never intended to do -- it does function as a fascinating footnote to the proper album, illustrating the invention that lies behind its recording, while also operating as an impressive document of what Depper can do in the studio. Plus, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun.

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