I’ve been thinking about this album for over a month. Every day basically. Finally, I’m writing the review. Where to start?
Look around at everyone.
Everyone looks alive and waiting.
Maybe Dave Longstreth saw everyone alive and waiting and decided to give them something to choke on. “Bitte Orca” is rich enough to induce choking. But like something rich, you can’t get enough of it.
Those lyrics from the first track, “Cannibal Resource,” might actual be in reference to some extremely intellectual subject- like the Reformation or the behavior of the synapses under the extreme pressure of love. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that this album is the most mind-boggling I’ve heard in a long time. It throws me off the rocker with each slight of verse, change of tempo or 5-part harmony. All are very prevalent.
The songs on “Bitte Orca” mix African influenced R&B, gospel vocals, electronics and heavy guitars like they belong together. Like the dough wont rise without every essential ingredient. Only Longstreth makes songs like this. I don’t really understand how he did this. What’s inside his head? Spaghetti?
Take, for example, “Useful Chamber.” It starts with a flat and droned out electronic beat, and synths, then veers into an acoustic guitar picked transition. It’s back to the synths and drones, female vocals that imitate the synths, and back to acoustic picking. And it builds and builds and then cuts to just a drum beat. Longstreth sings a few lines in a flat tone and then boom! The song gets louder, a guitar squeals and there’s a melody that brings you throw all the glorious muck. Another cut. This time, the normally angelic vocals of Angel Deradoorian, Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle come in, harshly. They turn pretty miraculously.
In perfect call and response, Longstreth’s wavering vocals return.
I’m caught up in a storm
That I need no shelter from
He needs no shelter because even though he’s in a storm, it’s not scary, not uncomfortable. It’s just strange and complicated. And you won’t believe this. The song cuts out again and we’re onto the third distinctly different section. To conclude, weave the three sections together.
This is extremely well planned music. Many songs, like “Useful Chamber,” are written like symphonies, with movements. Others are more simple yet still far from it.
Longstreth said in a New York Times interview that songs aren’t songs until you work the shit out of all your many ideas. This makes clear the question of “where do these songs come from?”
He gets insane ideas and works with them to craft complex and crafty music.
The first single from the album, “Stillness is the Move,” came out in April and is almost an R&B song. Nearly a dance track, too. The song features Coffman on lead vocals and damn, does this girl have pipes! She sings her heart out like she’s Aretha, all over a groovy beat. I read that Coffman got many of the lyrics from the Wim Wenders film “Wings of Desire.” Longstreth told her to do this.
Dirty Projectors have, literally, something for everyone. Anybody who enjoys high-quality songwriting and complex music will go mad for this. On first listen, it may seem like too much. But get into it. It can take you very far away. And isn’t that what music is for? Journeys and adventure and mind trips?
“Bitte Orca” is out on Tuesday, June 9.
Dirty Projectors: “Useful Chamber”
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Dirty Projectors: “Useful Chamber”
DIRTY PROJECTORS TOUR DATES6/05 – NEW YORK, NY – Summerstage* (TONIGHT!!!) 6/06 – BALTIMORE, MD – Metro Gallery 6/08 – WASHINGTON, DC – 9:30 Club* 6/09 – WASHINGTON, DC – 9:30 Club* 6/10 – RICHMOND, VA – The National* 6/11 – CHARLOTTE, NC – Amos’ Southend* 6/12 – MANCHESTER TN – Bonnaroo Music Festival 6/17 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – First Unitarian Church Downstairs 6/18 – BOSTON, MA – Somerville Theatre 6/19 – NEW YORK, NY Instore at Other Music 6/21 – COLUMBUS, OH – Wexner Center 6/22 – CHICAGO, IL – Millenium Park – Pritzker 7/03 – SEATTLE, WA – Chop Suey 7/04 – PORTLAND, OR – Holocene 7/07 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Independent 7/08 – LOS ANGELES, CA – Troubadour 7/19 BROOKLYN, NY – Williamsburg Waterfront * WITH TV ON THE RADIO