Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Dirty Projectors’ ‘Bitte Orca’ was one of my musical highlights of the year; it seemed to tick a lot of boxes in my opinion. However, the strangest thing about this album was that I never knew why. I suppose the ‘catchy’ tunes and bizarre instrumentation is attention grabbing, but after listening to a few songs you get over that sensation. But, afterwards you are left with a different one; the only comparable idea that springs to mind is ‘nirvana’ (not the band, the Buddhist sense of enlightenment). I realise I’m committing a critical cliché, but, after you for lack of a better phrase ‘get it’ you suddenly understand it in an almost profound way. Indeed, it’s the aftertaste, not the initial hit; of ‘Bitte Orca’ that makes you return for more... Prior to ‘Bitte Orca’, Dirty Projectors had always been a band one part intriguing, two parts overwhelming (I’m gonna see how long I can keep this cocktail/alcohol metaphors going). As such, I was prepared for ‘Bitte Orca’ to be the same fashion of songs that sounded out of this world, but ultimately alienating. Imagine my surprise when I develop a new found love for the band; it was sought of a ‘he might not be Brad Pitt, but his personality compensates’ kind of moment. As a result, I sought of feel guilty for being so judgemental towards the band, and this album has been my redemption. Now that my emotions have spilled onto this review I can finally get down to talking about the album (I know you’re eager dear reader)... First things first, ‘Cannibal Resource’ the Led Zeppelin-esque, folksy tornado that sets this bar-run in motion (wink wink); this sea-sawing, hazy, captivating, nay, enchanting opener defines what makes ‘Bitte Orca’ so brilliant. It is creative, experimental, but all the while focuses on a sculpted melody; outlining the mindset of Dirty Projectors. ‘Temecula Sunrise’ is the whisky chaser that follows; jittery arpeggios and arbitrary harmonies create Dave Longstreth’s soundscape of avant-garde masterpieces. Bizarrely amid the country riffs and syncopated drums is a chorus that is lifted out of the soundscape and almost pedestalised... Now comes the yard of ale, the eighteen year matured whisky, the 1854 Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon; ‘Stillness is the Move’. It would be quite redundant to say how ‘Stillness is the Move’ shaped the music of 2009 and as such I won’t say how monumentally groundbreaking yet refreshing it sounded. All things aside, ‘Stillness is the Move’ was definitely a highpoint of the album, inching to the 11 out of 10 mark. That said, from there the album doesn’t really ease off that sense of captivation, every harmony seams laboured over and every instrument added for a reason... Overall, ‘Bitte Orca’ was one of the nicest surprises of the year, a reminder that ignoring music can lead to one’s own downfall. Having learnt my lesson I have since revelled in my recovery and enjoyed every moment since. The thing I love about Dirty Projectors the most is how personally I think of them as two bands; a regular 3-piece guitar, bass and drums band fronted by Dave Longstreth, and Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle, the ‘white’ Supremes, the trio of velvety harmonies. The mix of the two together is like Vodka and Vermouth shaken together, a Martini that is raspy and leaves you not knowing whether you love it or not, but after a few more rounds you suddenly find you’ve warmed to it.