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Album Review: Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (Domino)

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MP3: Dirty Projectors – Stillness is the move from the forthcoming full-length Bitte Orca (2009)

There’s a strange pattern of listenership between Dirty Projectors and myself. Here’s generally how it works: every few months I excitedly stumble upon one of their albums at some miscellaneous record shop. I’ll take it home, cherish the album art that the indie gods have bestowed upon me, set my player on repeat, and amongst the other indistinct tunes, I’ll find one sole outstanding track that absolutely dominates my musical interests like a newly acquired puppy.

For example: the beauty-saturated The Glad Fact’s most sincere track (“Lit From Below”) ran through my speakers for the majority of last January, whereas the grand harmonies of “Not Having Found” played the same role for The Getty Address last June. Over a year and a half after my first experience with Dirty Projectors, “Rise Above” still hasn’t vanished from my play cue, and that’s all I’ll say about that. It’s always been worth the trouble to shuffle through Dave Longstreth’s discography for these rare tracks, which is exactly the state of mind I utilized while first listening to Bitte Orca.

Lead Projector Dave Longstreth has well-established musical prowess in most, if not all, independent music circles. His latest work, Bitte Orca, has been far more anticipated than anything he’s previously released (what with the recent David Byrne collaboration “Knotty Pine” getting some serious positive feedback). As it turns out, Bitte Orca takes the fragmented wonderbits of Longstreth’s past, and grinds them all together in a giant experimental blender. It helps the would-be-challenging pieces of music get through to the listener much more readily than anything off of their previous works. And to be honest, Dirty Projectors damn well deserve the hype for that reason alone.

Bitte Orca is definitely the Dirty Projectors’ pop album if they’ll ever make one, evidenced by the radio-ready beats of single “Stillness Is The Move.” The track is an experimental-R&B-dance-pop crockpot confection whose mix’n’match magnificence might have been credited completely to luck if we hadn’t known that Mr. Longstreth’s got more than chance on his side. Though the disjointed guitar estranges the listener upon the first listen, and that funky-as-hell opening vocal line doesn’t help, the closing repetitions are sung with so much heart that it’s hard to deny the Projectors their merit.

Overall, the album sounds more comprehensive than anything else I’ve heard by Dave Longstreth’s bunch. The unadorned splendor of “Two Doves,” precedes the entrancing harmonic radiance of album masterwork “Useful Chamber” and makes for an entirely flawless midsection. “Temecula Sunrise” presents a chorus more powerful than the devil’s hot sauce, with shiverworthy guitarwork right alongside.

Ever listen to a song so many times in a row that you feel bad for the people around you? That’s how the larger portion of this album works (if you’re not into this stuff, at least take a listen to “Useful Chamber” ‘cause, sweet Lord, that shit’s hot).

Bitte Orca is really, at its roots, an album wholly comprised of songs made to reign supreme over my musical attention span in just this way. It’s more immediately catchy than anything else Dirty Projectors have released, and as such, it works as an ideal introduction into their particular brand of vocal wizardry. Without sacrificing his artistic vision for a second, Dave Longstreth turns his much-admired talents to the accessible side of things on Bitte Orca. Hats off to Dirty Projectors here, this is clearly one for the best-of lists.

Label: Domino

Release Date: June 9 2009

Track list:

1. Cannibal Resource
2. Temecula Sunrise
3. The Bride
4. Stillness Is the Move
5. Two Doves
6. Useful Chamber
7. No Intention
8. Remade Horizon
9. Fluorescent Half Dome

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5 Responses to “Album Review: Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (Domino)”

  1. joey4track says:

    hear hear!

  2. allgreek2me says:

    I will be seeing them live for a special in-store performance in Manhattan on June 19th. I have this album preordered on vinyl and enjoyed reading your comments. I became interest in this artist after seeing their live performance as part of the Dark was the Night show at Radio City Music Hall back on May 3rd.

  3. The Grain says:

    It’s an incredible album. Maybe try this review from a UK perspective and see what you think

    http://www.whatisthegrain.com/2009/06/say-goodbye-to-post-britpop-pastiche-hello-to-dirty-projectors-bitte-orca/

  4. [...] course, means lists, lists, lists. Near the top of most “album of the decade” lists is Bitte Orca, which Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors released earlier this year. Back in June, the Projectors [...]

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