Release Date: Jun 9, 2009
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
I've heard Dave Longstreth cursed at length, and I've heard him compared to some of the lesser deities. In the Dirty Projectors frontman we have a fellow who fancies himself not so much a songwriter as a modern composer, a Yale grad with one of indie rock's most divisive voices. Early DPs records carry with them ambitions so grandiose it's no wonder they range from wildly inventive to practically unlistenable-- occasionally in the span of the same song.
Review Summary: Bitte Orca is an unorthodox listen; racking your brain and melting your heart all in the same instant, and that is something to appreciateAttempting to describe Dirty Projectors in one swift adjective or genre can be rather difficult. Their sound is sophisticated, as displayed on latest album, Rise Above, which rubbed off gritty and frantic at times in their homage to Black Flag’s Damage. With Bitte Orca, we find Dirty Projectors as a reborn band, invigorated with pop sensibilities without removing the experimental indie-rock prowess that they are known for.
Left field art-rockers share the recording process for their most straightforward and stylized release Having assembled a backing band dexterous enough to maneuver his fractured vocal labyrinths and polymath grooves for touring 2007’s Rise Abovewhere he attempted to recreate Black Flag’s Damaged from memory-Dave Longstreth has made his first “band” album with Bitte Orca.in the Dirty Projectors catalog and one of the most singularly engrossing albums likely to be released this year, a triumph in sustained creative restlessness. .
On paper, none of the elements that went into this Brooklyn collective’s latest album, Bitte Orca, seem likely to complement one another. Melismatic R&B vocals layered over herky-jerky art-rock guitars? Hushed chamber-folk meditations that build to jarringly noisy crescendos? Somehow the band makes it work, though, pulling all those disparate sounds together in a unified style that’s all the more glorious for its strangeness. Lead single ”Stillness Is the Move,” in particular, deserves a permanent place in the barbecue playlists of those who like their summertime jams ?a little — well, a lot — weird.
Of all the New York art-rock bands to command column inches in the New York Times arts section and elicit echolalic reporting of new singles and remixes this year (like Animal Collective circa January or Grizzly Bear circa April/May), Dirty Projectors have had the most circuitous and unlikely ascension. The band started as a way for Yale composition graduate Dave Longstreth to mix his orchestral leanings with R&B grooves and prog-rock pretension. His third album, 2005’s The Getty Address, was a concept album about Don Henley.
So mass-energy equivalence is awesome and all, but did it ever get Einstein, y’know, laid? To us mere mortals his achievements can be regarded with a sort of detached awe: we know his legacy is considerably more than the title of a Big Audio Dynamite song, but by and large most of us are not able to look a physicist in the eye and wholeheartedly declare “dang! The special theory of relativity is sexy!” In a similar-ish way, I have a distinct sensation Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca might be one of the greatest albums ever made by man or beast, or it would be if its sheer brilliance wasn’t in some ways slightly alienating. Time and time again Dave Longstreth’s songwriting throws up something madly, wonderfully oblique, something that not another songwriter would have thought of, let along successfully committed to disc; yet it feels kind of hard to love it in direct proportion to the actual amount of genius that hums and crackles and pops from its every impossible angle. It is, let's be clear, still pretty lovable.
These New Yorkers' fifth album continues to mark them out as one of rock's most compelling curiosities. Via the fluttering sketches of David Longstreth's early solo releases and 2007's remarkable Black Flag quasi-tribute album, Rise Above, they arrive at this confounding, beautiful record. At first its fractious arrangements and dazzling vocal invention can seem unfathomably free, but attention reveals a compositional precision and unique melodic gift.
For those who have followed Dirty Projectors from the beginning, there had to be some feeling that the band was working towards something, some notion that there was more to their tangled musical constructions. Not that earlier works like The Getty Address or The Glad Fact weren’t stunning in their originality and breadth of sounds, but they came off more as sounds you were running into than ones you were meshing with as you listened. Their hyper-compositions, with all their edgy tangents, didn’t exactly invite you in.
Dirty Projectors' mastermind David Longstreth appears to be attracted to sounds that will simultaneously draw in and confound the average listener; he has a clear, sweet voice and a gift for well-crafted harmonies and melodies that bring out the innate beauty of his music, but he often weds them to fractured time signatures that cause the songs to shift gear at the least expected moments, and he tosses in sudden bursts of atonal skronk that are either bracing or puzzling, depending on your point of view. 2009's Bitte Orca certainly follows in this tradition, and there's enough aural shapeshifting on this set to keep anyone guessing on first listen. Despite that, in many respects, Bitte Orca is one of Dirty Projectors' most accessible efforts to date; the slinky "Stillness Is the Move" could almost pass for mainstream R&B with its potent groove, lush harmonies by Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian, and elegant string coda, though with Longstreth's wiry juju guitar leads floating over the top, this ain't quite Beyoncé, and the placid semi-folkie grace of "Two Doves" (which bears a certain melodic resemblance to a-ha's MTV-driven hit "Take on Me") is truly lovely even when the dramatic dynamics of the string section seem intent on calling attention to some darker undercurrents.
R estless, inventive, high on their own intelligence: it's no wonder bloggers love Brooklyn indie rockers Dirty Projectors. Their seventh album remembers to add tunes, and is thus less baffling than before..
Hype can be as equally destructive and unhelpful as it can be beneficial. For Dirty Projectors, that hype has been building and has finally reached a boiling point with the release of their newest album, Bitte Orca. Like other albums that were preceded by rapturous attention, Dave Longstreth and Co. seemed to deliver on almost every promise with fashionable strength.
In a recent New York Times interview, Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth comes across as just the kind of guy you’d want to spill beer on if you met him at a party. He wants us to know that he grew up looking down on his friends’ video games. He puts himself in the same sentence as John Coltrane, Richard Wagner and William Blake. He repeatedly cherishes the outlandishness of his ideas, as though it’s the weirdest and most genius thing in the world to combine elements of currently popular R&B, international pop music and canonized rock.