Monday, November 9th, 2009
Stillness Is The Move
Review of Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca and giveaway
Sarah CassThere’s not much question that Bitte Orca, the latest record from Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors, is one of the most feted records of the year – the critical math says so and so do a goodly number of people whose tastes I respect and frequently align with my own. And as such, I’ve put more time than I might normally into the record, seeking a point of ingress to understanding and appreciating what everyone else seems to get but which I don’t. And I think I’m about ready to throw in the towel.
To its merits, Bitte Orca is meticulously crafted and a fine showcase for the talents and abilities of all involved. Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian’s vocals swoop birdlike in, out and around the dense musical arrangements of Dirty Projector mastermind Dave Longstreth and while his own voice isn’t nearly as lovely as theirs, it’s also an impressively distinctive and agile instrument. The record draws deep from modern R&B for inspiration and does a fine job of keeping many of those reference points intact while rendering them with different sounds and textures but that, I think is where they lose me.
The thing that bugs me most about most of what’s classed as R&B these days is the relentless showiness of the vocals. The acrobatics, the over-emoting, the pure ostentatiousness of it all. So that the Dirty Projectors emulate this aesthetic so well and extend it to the instrumentation is pretty much a recipe for not doing it for me. There’s no shortage of moments that come close, but they’re almost inevitably undone by a flurry of vocal trills or an epically meandering guitar line that serve no musical purpose that I can discern except to prove that they could do it. And it’s the fact that they come so close to catching my ear but fail to do so that’s most frustrating – I thought their contribution with David Byrne for the Dark Was The Night charity compilation was terrific, and if Bitte Orca had some of the focus that track did, I’d probably be toeing the party line in celebrating the record’s genius. Instead, despite my best efforts, I have to align myself with one fictionalized Emperor Joseph II, even if it means ultimately being on the wrong side of history… “there are simply too many notes”.
So that’s me, but I know lots of you love you some Dirty Projectors and are excited that the band are coming back this coming Saturday, November 14, for a show at the Opera House. Tickets are $16 in advance but courtesy of REMG, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to be a Dirty Projection” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Also feel free to tell me why I’m an idiot for not loving the band. Contest closes at midnight, November 12.
Dirty Projectors are declared the epitome of Brooklyn awesomeness in a New York Magazine about how awesome Brooklyn is. Tiny Mix Tapes dissects – including charts and sheet music – a Dirty Projectors song.
MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”
MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Useful Chamber”
MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Temecula Sunrise”
MP3: Dirty Projectors & David Byrne – “Knotty Pine”
Video: Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”
Video: Grizzly Bear – “Ready, Able”
Monsters Of Folk have a new video.
Pixies are offering a free live EP of Doolittle performances to mark the start of their Doolittle 20th Anniversary tour. Grab it from their website.