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RAPTURE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Mirror (Gravity) 1999
Insound Tour Support Series No. 19 (Insound) 2001
Out of the races and onto the tracks EP (Sub Pop) 2001
Echoes (Strummer/Universal) 2003
VARIOUS ARTISTS
DFA Records Presents: Compilation 1 (DFA) 2003

One of the pre-eminent dancepunk groups of the early 2000s, the Rapture began in California in 1998 when two childhood friends, multi-instrumentalist Luke Jenner and percussionist Vito Roccoforte, joined forces. The solid but unexciting debut, Mirror, reveals Gang of Four and Cure influences; dirty, somewhat sloppy guitar work backed by basic synth parts. The album's most memorable track, "Olio," wouldn't be fully realized until the group extended it and re-worked it in a new performance a few years later.

The group moved to New York City and lost its bassist, replacing him with Mattie Safer, a New York University student who first saw the band play in his hometown of Washington, DC. The Rapture's career and artistic development took off after meeting up in 2000 with the label/production team DFA ("Death From Above"; Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy). By the following year, the group had recorded about a dozen songs with the duo, which were released on two EPs. The production is basic, lacking the overdubs and effects of the next full-length. The six tracks on Out of the races and onto the tracks show the Rapture in their guitar-driven punk and no-wave stage, but the roots of their dance-punk sound are apparent in the driving beat and slightly funky rhythms. Insound Tour Support Series No. 19 is for completists only: three of the tracks are on the next album in a more developed form, and the other three aren't particularly memorable. The highlight is a version of "House of Jealous Lovers" without cowbell. (The second version of that song, issued on a subsequent 12-inch, opens with a a club drumbeat. Cowbell tethered to a strong, melodic bassline sets the groove, while echoed guitars provide the song's main hook.)

Echoes benefits from tight performances, strong production and the addition of Gabriel Andruzzi's saxophone; highlights include a re-vamped "Olio" (which also had success as a 12"), "Heaven" and "Sister Savior." The rendition of "House of Jealous Lovers" included here album begins with a burst of noise over the beat, adding a harder rock edge to the track.

Four groups contribute two songs each to DFA Records Presents: Compilation 1. The Rapture steal the show with a slightly different version of "House of Jealous Lovers" and the otherwise unreleased "Silent Morning." The disc also boasts strong numbers from Juan MacLean, Black Dice and Murphy's own LCD Soundsystem ("Losing My Edge", the trendy venting of an aging hipster).

[Justin Cober-Lake]