Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca (Expanded Edition)

Matthew Fritch

By Matthew Fritch

on 06.15.11 in Reviews

Pity the Fleet Foxes fan who wanders into the dense jungle of Bitte Orca with the expectation of standard-issue, blogosphere-approved indie rock. For some listeners, could conjure memories of D.C. hardcore punks filing into a Shudder To Think show, only to be confronted with operatic glam-rock. Or a metalhead tuning into Headbanger's Ball and being treated to the foreign-sounding vocal contortions of System Of A Down. The herd mentality just won't do when it comes to Dirty Projectors, the Brooklyn outfit led by Dave Longstreth. Attempting to neatly file the band is a fool's errand; its bright, skittering African guitar riffs suggest Talking Heads or an avant take on Vampire Weekend's "Upper West Side Soweto," but Bitte Orca sounds more like a bohemian experiment from some imaginary borough.

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There's the R&B bump of "Stillness Is The Move," on which guitarist Amber Coffman executes Mariah Carey trills over a pinging, snaking melody figure. The Longstreth-sung "Useful Chamber" dips and dives with Antony-like falsetto, its slowly pumping rhythm occasionally erupting into spasms of guitar-solo freakout. While each track seems to take perverse delight in its splatter of vocal surprises (Longstreth, Coffman and multi-instrumentalist Angel Deradoorian all contribute to a polyphony of African-style a cappella singing on "Remade Horizon"), it's often Longstreth's guitar that provides an anchor — even when that anchor is shaped like British folk fingerpicking, as on "Temecula Sunrise." On paper, Dirty Projectors can seem like a massive accumulation of known quantities — prog rock, freak folk, world music and psychedelia — but the new math of Bitte Orca never allows it to be the sum of these parts.