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The Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Released on Domino Records, 6/09/09

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The name Dirty Projectors has been bouncing around the music kingdom for quite some time now, and it is no wonder. Founder and current musical arranger/director Dave Longstreth has been steadily releasing albums for the past seven years, but not just any ol’ albums -- concept albums. It does sound a little far-reaching at first, an entire album about Don Henley followed by Rise Above, an album of Black Flag covers arranged solely from memory. But after a listen to Bitte Orca, the band’s latest release on Domino Records, you begin to understand just how someone like Longstreth might get away with ideas so seemingly preposterous, isolating and arcane.

Having also heard the Dirty Projectors cover with David Byrne on a recently released compilation album entitled Dark was the Night, the new wave and world beat comparisons are a given when side by side with Byrne, the master of off-kilter pop and avant-garde experimentalism. However, Bitte Orca goes above and beyond easily made associations and obvious convergences.

As it turns out, the album is extremely hard to classify. Do not try to keep this baby pinned with your labels and genre subcategories. Bitte Orca is all genres and yet no genre at all. The arrangements are strange to say the least, disconcerting and jagged, they seem to jump from phrase to phrase like a jackrabbit in a bouncy castle with a radio flipping between the classical station, college radio, and the latest hip hop and R&B jams. “The Bride” sounds like a cross between a Baroque lute ballad and straight up Deerhoof, and is followed by “Stillness is the Move”, the obvious single, with enough ooohs, bleeps, beats and bloops to book any dance crazed club goer a one way ticket to stoke mountain.

Bitte Orca is a truly unique venture against the standard release torrent, and though unabashedly esoteric, it is far from intangible, and may well be one of the more interesting finds this year.