First Impressions: Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca


* This first impression has been made possible by the good people at NPR, who will be streaming this fine album in its entirety for the next week leading up to its official release on June 8.

First, let me get a show of hands. How many people thought Animal Collective pretty much had this year in the bag when they released Merriweather Post Pavilion waaaaaay back in January? Did anyone expect anything else in ’09 to even come close to touching that album in quality, audacity, or ingenuity?

I’m not usually one to begin the review of an album by talking about another, but in this instance, I can’t think of a better praise for Bitte Orca than to say this it is absolutely, positively Merriweather-worthy. Though about as far away from that transcendental masterpiece as possible musically, it’s every bit its equal in terms of expertly exploring uncharted sonic waters, both defying and redefining genres along the way.

Head Projector Dave Longstreth’s compositions are taut but playful, immaculately constructed but effortlessly played. There isn’t a hair out of place yet nothing sounds predictable. He seems to have finally, fully embraced his inner David Byrne (he even collaborated with him on the recent Dark Was the Night compilation), especially on songs like the sunny, sauntering “Temecula Sunrise” and shimmering closer “Flourescent Half-Dome.” These songs betray an accessibilty that wasn’t allowed on previous efforts (not even the relatively immediate Black Flag deconstructions of Rise Above a few years back) and somehow manage to be just as challenging and rewarding.

Though Longstreth is undoubtedly the wizard behind the curtain, his muses and bandmates Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian rightfully share center stage (and the cover), as their increased presence lends Bitte Orca much of its whimsical beauty. Blogs and zines have already (and with good reason) lost their shit over lead single “Stillness is the Move,” which finds Coffman doing her best Mariah impression (only without the sucking) over an exotic drum loop. The Deradoorian showcase that follows it on record however, “Two Doves,” is nearly as gorgeous with its gentle acoustic strum, orchestral flourises and Angel’s ever-so-soulful stretching out of her vowels.

There are even more highlights than the ones I’ve mentioned  (at a mere 9 songs long, there’s no room for filler), and I have no intentions of spoiling them here (cough “Useful Chamber” cough). Needless to say that each song is just as stunning on its own as it is when taken as part of a whole. True to its title, Bitte Orca is a wonderous whale of a record that finds Dirty Projectors’ potential as a band fully realized. Essential in all respects.

So hurry up and go listen. Right now.


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One Response to “First Impressions: Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca”

  1. Cat Says:

    Hey, thanks for the tip. Listening now – I’ll let you know what I think!

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