Monday, November 9th, 2009

Stillness Is The Move

Review of Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca and giveaway

Photo By Sarah CassSarah 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 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”

Grizzly Bear, another critical darling whose altar I can’t quite bring myself to genuflect before, have released a new video from Veckatimest.

Video: Grizzly Bear – “Ready, Able”

Paste talks to Beach House, who are preparing to release their third record in Teen Dream on January 26 of the new year.

Clash interviews Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo.

Monsters Of Folk have a new video.

Video: Monsters of Folk – “Temazcal”

Yours Truly has a living room video session with Thao with The Get Down Stay Down.

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.

Beatroute and JAM interview Ohbijou, who were the victims of a violin theft in Montreal a couple days back. See said violin in happier times in a video performance at Southern Souls.

Fucked Up frontman Damian Abraham tells New York Magazine what the band are doing with their Polaris Music Prize winnings – a star-studded remake of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid.

By : Frank Yang at 8:24 am
Category: Contests

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RSS Feed for this post10 Responses.
  1. danieljosef says:

    I totally agree with you on this one, I want to love this record, everyone seems to. But I can’t get into it. There are a couple tracks that I like but overall, I just don’t get it.

    Big plus on this show though is tUnEyArDs opening, I saw her open for Think About Life during OTTF, and her set was breath-taking, probably one of the greatest opening band sets I have seen this year.

  2. Jared says:

    Nice to know that there’s someone out there that agrees with me. I tried a number of times to get into this record but just couldn’t. It’s not that it’s bad, it just didn’t hit me.

  3. Greg says:

    Dirty Projector’s is complete shite.

  4. BR says:

    thank goodness you said so….I enjoy a couple of tracks here and there, but I can’t seem to get into either Dirty Projectors or Grizzly Bear the same way everyone else has.

  5. thedprs says:

    the love for dirty projectors and grizzly bear is also lost on me. they are obviously talented folks who make music lots of people love, but it just doesnt register with me at all. you know what throw in fiery furnaces in that mix. ?:(

  6. Damon says:

    I completely agree about The DPs, Frank!

  7. ricky says:

    i think fred falke’s remix of grizzly bear is the best grizzly bear tune

  8. Jen says:

    Same here, Frank. Happy others love them, but they are not for me.

  9. Bree says:

    i hated bitte orca at first, but then “no intention” hooked me. it’s about the only thing i can listen to on the album.

    fantastic amadeus quote, though. one of my favorite movies.

  10. aviva c says:

    bitte orca is my fave album of the year but i completely get what you are saying, dave longstretch makes the greatest shortest hooks. there are lots of songs i wish would stay in one place just a little longer.