Dave Grohl’s ‘Play’: A masterpiece in nostalgia

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Dave Grohl recording a guitar line in 'Play' - Photo by Andrew Stuart

Dave Grohl is a true chameleon of ‘rock n roll’. His musical direction has crescendoed over his expansive 30 year career, with his latest project ‘Play’ perhaps the most revealing. 

‘Play’ is the combination of an 8 minute mini documentary and 23 minute instrumental recording, which sees the rock legend manically attack 7 instruments with the enthusiasm of a child picking up a guitar for the first time.

The idea behind the project is engulfed by nostalgia, with Grohl openly reminiscing about the puzzles of learning and mastering instruments, inspired now by his daughters who are walking along the same path he once took.

“To any musician, young or old, a beautiful studio full of instruments is like a playground,” – Dave Grohl (Play, 2018)

For any fan of the Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman this project almost feels as if he is coming full circle as he nears his 50th birthday. Few would know that Grohl famously played every instrument on the Foo Fighters self titled debut. The 1995 release acted as therapy of sorts after the loss of Kurt Cobain, whilst also granting Grohl a musical rebirth as the guitarist and singer the world knows today.

‘Play’ shows how far Grohl has come since his early Foo Fighters days, with the 23 minute instrumental ebbing and flowing between various influences from his career. There are shades of the 20 minute Rush cult classic ‘2112‘, elements of early Queens of The Stone Age stoner rock, delicate sections reminiscent of the ‘Skin and Bones’ Foo Fighters era, and areas of light and shade married throughout.

Hearing Grohl behind a drum kit again should be motivation enough for any rock fan to leap into the prog/rock monster ears first, with the intensity of his playing rivalling that of his work on the legendary Nirvana recordings and the 2009 Them Crooked Vultures album.

Tonally the intricacies in Grohl’s playing throughout the project create a sense of melodic bliss, though it could quite easily fall upon deaf ears. An average music listener will find no appeal in Grohl’s lengthy instrumental, hell, even fans of the Foo Fighters might discard the project… but somehow it feels as though that may be what Grohl wants.

‘Play’ feels like a gift from the ageing rocker, a take it or leave it gesture, to musicians and his personal fans around the globe of whom he knows will appreciate it… a fitting tribute to a life dedicated to music.

Watch ‘Play’ below…

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