on June 9, 2009
If you've been turned off by the Dirty Projectors in the past because they were either too intricate, too nonsensical, or too pretentious, then I think you will love this album. Every song is unique and well arranged and, although much more straightforward than past albums, still keeps some of the jazzy mathiness that old fans will love. The vocals have reached a new high with impressive three-part female harmonies complementing Dave Longstreth's angular, rhythmic singing. Highly recommended; I just keep coming back for more, even after weeks of listens, and that doesn't happen often for me.
on October 20, 2009
Bitte Orca is very likely to appear in the top albums of 2009. I agree.
The album presents many musical concepts that are innovative, creative, and catchy. For instance, guitar riffs are very rarely trite or predictable. Melodies are very rarely structured so that the listener is able to hum them after only a listen or two. Meter is unpredictable and yet extremely interesting with all of its syncopation and surprises. Familiar harmonic structure is sparse and creates a very disconnected feel in almost every track. These components together challenge many ingrained concepts of music, and it makes it extremely interesting to truly listen to. Because of these challenges that it presents I do believe it is making strides to creating new styles, encouraging creativity, etc., and deserves to be recognized as one of the best albums of 2009.
However, because the album presents so many complex ideas and so many changes in meter and structure so rapidly it is not likely to become one of the most coherent albums of all time. Like Radiohead, Dirty Projectors present so many new concepts and challenges to what is expected that often the coherency of the ideas, melodies, and lyrics are difficult to perceive (not impossible, just difficult). I believe that like Radiohead, many bands will benefit from taking examples from Dirty Projectors and will most likely become more successful than their predecessors when the original ideas are watered down for mainstream music.
Experimental rock group Dirty Projectors are back with another album that showcases their versatility. This is not a CD to put in and chill out to. David Longstreth is able to push boundaries and create something quite new and original. This album came out to great acclaim from critics, but in some ways, it defines musical definition. Songs vary from noise pop to indie rock to new weird America to freak folk in style, often with a lo-fi sensibility. That being said, if you ride it out, "Bitte Orca" will reward you with a novel approach to contemporary music that separates Dirty Projectors from its peers.
on December 25, 2009
Dave Longstreth is his generation's Captain Beefheart. He combines "normal" musical sounds with drastic, sometimes jarring, rhythmic and sonic changes. BITTE ORCA is the first Dirty Projectors album that I've heard and I must say that it is one of the most unique albums I found all year. Recommended if you like Dear Science by TV on the Radio, Actor by St. Vincent, or Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear.
on November 15, 2009
After seeing this album get nearly universal acclaim from the critics, I figured it was worth listening to to see what the fuss was about. So I gave it a full listen, expecting to find it at least somewhat enjoyable. Unfortunately, I found it totally unappealing and actually very annoying. It is definitely true that the songs on the album are inventive and experimental, and if you're mostly just looking for something different, you might like this. But for me, the aesthetic doesn't work at all.
David Longstreth takes a kitchen sink approach to production, throwing in what sounds like every possible thing he can think of. He seems to be trying very hard to make the songs interesting to listen to, incorporating multiple vocalists who sing in different styles all at once, unusual rhythmic variations against a standard melodic line, and all sorts of other things floating around all over the place. While, in theory, that could sound pretty cool, what this results in here is sort of the sonic equivalent of taking tofu fried in soybean oil, covering that with marinara sauce, slicing in some kiwi, drizzling some truffle oil over all that, and then adding a few dashes of fish sauce and a cup of cold chocolate milk.
Even "Stillness is the Move," the song on the album that most resembles a single, suffers from an overall sense of clutter and sloppiness. While the female singers give a strong performance, there is just too much going on, and the mix of all that is too raw and unfocused for the song to ever truly gel.
My musical tastes in general tend to veer towards the alternative and odd, but this album just doesn't work for me at all. Clearly some people do seem to love it, so if you too are intrigued by the amazing reviews this often gets, try to preview some full songs before buying the whole thing.
on June 22, 2009
Past albums by The Dirty Projectors often seemed to suffer from the same basic flaw, complexity and verbosity just for the sake of these two. This is not the case with Bitte Orca which I feel stands as a monumental achievement of this band (a band of whom I myself was not a fan of in any regard until this album). The album is incredibly streamlined and is by far there most accessible record in existence. Lead Singer and creative mastermind David Longstreth vocals suggest a sense of beauty and yearning not seen in sometime. Finally, the songs themselves. The albums benefits greatly from having a mere 9 songs, as it makes each one that much more personally affecting, never bogging down the listener or boring them. My personal favorite nod still has to go to opener Cannibal Resource, a beautiful song with a magnificent contrast between Longstreth and the underlying vocal harmonies. If you seek well constructed, highly intelligent Indie Rock then consider this album your cup of tea.
on March 22, 2010
having heard some flap about this band (dirty projectors) for a while now, i decided this CD was a safe yard sale purchase at 50 cents.
as a rule, i tend to gravitate toward the difficult and borderline unlistenable, musically. an early-teen discovery of the Residents and Frank Zappa on a long-defunct late night cable tv show in the early 80s (RIP, USA network's Night Flight) was the gateway drug to No Wave, Industrial (when the term still meant something), 20th century avant-garde composers and, ultimately, the pure freakout of the Ruins, Boredoms and the Osaka scene.
so i'm no stranger to the weird stuff.
BUT: the weird stuff has to have a soul.
'bitte orca' comes close - sometimes very very close - to being a great record. musically, it's fantastic. tight, intricate, catchy and non-repetitive, exceptionally well played and smoothly produced. the guitar work is refreshing and technically very proficient, reminding me of both robert fripp and post-Henry Cow fred frith - pretty high praise! the female vocals are something i feel all the way to the soles of my feet - very stirring. the west African flavors, when they appear, are well integrated and flow smoothly. and i've always had a weak spot for a well-placed string section.
the consistent deal breaker, though, is the male vocal. warbling, self-important, far too loud in the mix, twittering its big words seemingly just because they're big, or because the vocalist is in love with his own voice. unpardonable. like a male mariah carey without ... well, without whatever it is about mariah carey that makes people appreciate her. i have no idea what that is. he strikes me as a hipster doofus taking his awful cafe poetry far, far too seriously, while none of his friends have the gumption to take his notebooks away before setting him loose in the recording studio.
an ultimately frustrating experience, this disc makes a great argument in favor of instrumentals. it's a tragic waste of potential, because i really did want to love it.
NOT a keeper. not even a burn-to-my-ipod-before-i-get-rid-of-it item. sad, really.
on August 21, 2009
If this is indeed their "most accessible" album, then I'll throw in the towel right now. I've heard so many amazing things about Dirty Projectors, but after 2 listens, I was more annoyed than anything. One shouldn't have to TRY to enjoy something, and maybe that's my loss, but in the meantime I've got a 'Bitte Orca' cd to give away to someone who wants it.
on July 21, 2009
Sure the vocals are a bit polarizing but the songs and chord progressions are wonderfully unique and addictive. These are songs that capture and hold you and make you want to find new things in them over and over. There are surely people that know immediately it's not for them, and then there are those like me that THOUGHT they didn't like it only to have it "click" one day for them. A truly magnificent album that makes me want to learn guitar.
on December 16, 2009
I'll say one thing: Dirty Projectors have hit their stride. They were - or, more accurately, he was - unbearably, eye-rollingly pretentious not four years ago, but look at this band now: the best live rock act going, creators of one of the finest albums of 2007, home to the most unlikely guitar hero. It's an exciting thing to see it all come together. Many props to them.
But listen. Now, I'm a huge fan of "Rise Above" - taken on its own terms, it is a near-perfect work. The songs vary wildly, but Longstreth's all-in composition and the unity of the conceit make that album whole, tied together, "of a piece." Unity, wholeness: this is where "Bitte Orca" fails. Spectacularly. It's a textbook example of a top-heavy album.
See, the first three or four songs are unimpeachably awesome - skewed pop at its finest. I love 'em. "Temecula Sunrise" in particular was the jam of the summer. But then "Two Doves" drops - "Two Doves," with its insipid lyrics and unclever Nico biting. And you say to yourself, Okay, okay, it's the first misstep of the album. That's alright: most albums have lesser songs, skippables. Probably Longstreth is just trying to play fair by giving Angel Deradoorian her moment. That's a nice gesture, I can respect it. If anything, this album seems to be Dirty Projectors' "band album," an inclusive joint, their first official step away from the Longstreth & Friends model. And redemption might be a track ahead, yes?
As it turns out, the answer is no. The bottom half of this album is, to put it bluntly, a slog. It's hard to pinpoint what has changed, exactly. The surprises have fallen off - Longstreth's bag of tricks appears to've been emptied. Everything is suddenly midtempo - it may've been before, but now it's unabashedly so. The digressions, such as the "Bitte Orca, Orca Bitte!" bit in "Useful Chamber," seem less inspired and more, well, digressive. The major key warmth of the album begins to wear, the lyrics become unsalvageable by mere melisma. And what is this closing track? A Sinead O'Connor tribute or something?
So, three stars. Last album was better, next album'll be too.