Mount Wittenberg Orca has come out at a time when people need, more than anything, something real and truthful and topical. Dave Longstreth likely didn’t plan for the album to drop during the worst environmental crisis this country’s ever seen, but it did.
The collaborative project between Dirty Projectors and Bjork is a lesson in communication. The entire EP pulsates with emotional longing and a desire to understand and be connected to others. You can feel it in the singing. Subjects like whale mothers and swimming through the ocean can have that affect.
And that’s where the genius of this album lies. Through instrumentation, the listener is forced into confronting the sad reality mankind is in the midst of. This is music that is transcendent but not in the typical sense. It forces you to stay here, in this realm, this zone, this space that we all share, and think about what is right in front of all of us.
The music is basically what you’d imagine from this team. Bjork croons in her sing-song jazzy way, and the sirens of Dirty Projectors hocket all over the tracks. Listen to “When the World Comes to an End” and “Beautiful Mother” and focus on each singer’s voice one at a time. You will get lost, guaranteed.
All of Mount Wittenberg Orca is jazzy. Drummer Brian McComber and bassist Nat Baldwin sync together to support the vocalists– they provide the Orca’s strong backbone. Lightly hit cymbals and upright bass make for a remarkably thick sound, despite how stripped-down it is.
The addition of Bjork to the Dirty Projectors mix is interestingly clean and unfussy. She sounds like she could have been there all along. She leads Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle but never towers over them. In fact, it can be argued that the three DP’s singers deliver more of a punch that she does on this album. Bjork doesn’t take part in the collaborative three-part harmonies, she does her own thing. Even Longstreth takes a harmonizing, back-seat role, (on “Beautiful Mother.”)
The old adage is true. BE HERE NOW.
Stream “All We Are” and buy the album. All proceeds go to National Geographic Society Ocean Preservation.