Release Date: Nov 6, 2012
Record label: Domino
In an interview with Paste leading up to the release of the excellent Swing Lo Magellan earlier this year, Dirty Projectors’ songwriter Dave Longstreth indicated that he had “70 ideas” and “40 finished demos” from a year spent holed up in a previously abandoned house in New York’s Delaware County. Twelve of these became that LP, but simple math leaves quite a bit of unaccounted material that seems destined to turn up in some manner. Enter the About to Die EP, the first subsequent offering from the band, standing as a humble collection of three previously unreleased tracks and the Swing Lo Magellan standout for which the EP is named.
First off, if you haven't set aside your skepticism about Dirty Projectors and at least tried listening to Swing Lo Magellan, you should. Coming from a band that has been at times irritatingly proud of their own complexity, it's a refreshingly basic album. Of course, basic is a relative term. Magellan is still dense and fidgety, and Dave Longstreth still seems like a writer incapable of getting to the end of a song without proving that he and his bandmates are, in some capacity, beyond human.
Dirty Projectors' songwriter David Longstreth is reported to have written "70 new songs and beats" during the recording process for their wonderful 2012 release Swing Low Magellan. It therefore comes as some surprise that a quarter of the About to Die EP—admittedly on this 12-minute record, that's just one song—is recycled from the earlier album and leads naturally to questions of the discarded tracks' value. While "About to Die" is a good song, with its Caribou-gone-Afrobeat rhythm section, surely those listening to this record don't need reacquainting.
Swing Lo Magellan, Dirty Projectors’ latest full-length, rendered succinctness a virtue. Where the Brooklyn royalty’s previous work drew capital from generous, richly orchestrated buildups, a quick glance at Magellan‘s track lengths reveals the opposite. A few months later comes this pithy offering—four tracks in 12 minutes, available online or on 12-inch vinyl cut at 45 RPM.
According to the press release that came with the excellent Swing Lo Magellan, Dirty Projectors’ Dave Lonsgtreth “wrote 70 new songs and beats” while spending time alone in “a weird house” in upstate New York. The musical component of the disc showed signs of that insulated, isolated mindset, hearkening back to the slender, sparse arrangements of early albums like The Glad Fact. The band had grown since, so the layers of female harmonies and slippery bass had to fit into Longstreth’s solo structures.
Dirty Projectors have had a pretty good time of 2012 so far, following the July release of the acclaimed LP Swing Lo Magellan. If that wasn’t enough new material, the Brooklyn band has put out the About To Die EP, featuring three new songs.The title track is the obvious standout, becoming the de facto calling card of Swing Lo Magellan. “About To Die” sounds like the band—or at least main man David Longstreth’s current vision of it—defining itself.