Dirty Projectors last effort, Rise Above, saw the band reconstructing Black Flag’s Damaged; then they worked with David Byrne on the Dark Was the Night Compilation. How would their new album, Bitte Orca, transpire? Let’s just say that the band uses elements of all their past work in the last few years and creates one of the most interesting records that has been released this year, if not THE most interesting.
As the album opens, you can tell that there will be more than enough going on in this album. “Cannibal Resource” has a song that relies less upon the musical instruments and more upon the diverse collaboration of vocal harmonies of Longstreth, Coffman, and Deradoorian. Still, a lot goes into this song; it’s the texturizing that makes the listening process so intoxicating. For some, you might find that the meandering seems pointless, as guitars twist and turn, often being dropped momentarily, then picked right back up. At times it seems as if the songs aren’t going anywhere at all, yet as the move on, you can discern the band’s direction.
“Stillness is the Move” uses a predominantly female vocal, which at times resembles some of the work of The Knife. Still, the guitar sounds as if it were sampled, and the percussion seems more electronic as well. All in all, the vocal harmonies give the song a bit of urgency that moves the song along; then it completely changes in the middle of the song, as one of the ladies sings in a more traditional approach. Once again, the band exhibits their willingness to deconstruct modern songwriting techniques, creating fresh sounds.
“Two Doves” is probably the group’s most straightforward song. Gentle guitar plucking, backed by crafty string arrangements created the perfect mood for which the female vocal has no choice but to soar. It’s one of the most beautiful songs on the album, which owes more to the care taken to craft the perfect song, as the vocals never seem too forced, and the accompaniment of the music is extremely fitting to the overall tone of the song.
Then you come across the montage that is “Useful Chamber,” which is constructed like a modern symphonic piece. There are some many different pieces to this song, it’s as if the band compiled several pieces in to one ornate song. The pacing is irregular at first, and sort of fragmented, which is to be expected from such a song, but it peaks with Longstreth shouting out the album title, before the girls chime in with their high-pitched “oohs” and “aahhs.” You won’t find a better crafted song this year.
And so the album goes, carefully constructed from the beginning until the end. The infectious melodies drive the album, but beneath it lies the clever craftwork of a band who is at the top of their game. It seems like Dirty Projectors have climbed atop the world yet again.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/05-two-doves.mp3]
Download: Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca [MP3]