The album art for Bitte Orca, the Dirty Projectors’ upcoming fifth album, shows band members Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian, their faces painted over in connecting red and blue circles. It harks back to the cover of Slaves’ Graves & Ballads, the band’s 2004 release, which some consider to be their strongest to date. But it also seems to hint at the enhanced prominence of the band’s female members, who joined the Dave Longstreth founded and fronted group around late 2006, early 2007. Longstreth, oft portrayed as the eccentric genius type, has been the driving force of the Dirty Projectors — but is notedly absent, vocally, on Bitte Orca‘s first single, “The Stillness Is The Move.”
Coffman and Deradoorian handle all the vocal duties, stretching their voices in similar ways to Longstreth, though they steer clear of the screeching, wailing, almost painful emoting that he would push. Putting the ladies in the spotlight has a softening quality, furthering the Dirty Projectors’ gradual movement away from heavy bass and drum tracks, which they became rather known for earlier on in their career. The band also continues to explore different song stylings, with “The Stillness Is The Move” feeling strangely connected to soul or R&B.
Lyrically, “The Stillness Is The Move” is as much an argument for accepting the natural flow of things as it arises questions of purpose. “There is nothing we can’t do,” Coffman and Deradoorian sing in the chorus, though it’s hard to decide if this is more from a perspective of being able to handle whatever comes one’s way, purposefully seeking out challenges or both. In the opening verse, they ponder, “Maybe I will get a job / get a job as waitress / maybe waiting tables in a diner / in some remote city,” suggesting an ease with a simpler life, then arise images of achievement and growth in the second verse with, “On top of every mountain / there was a great longing / for another even higher mountain / for each city longing / for a bigger city.”
It’s not all easy going, though, as the music strips down to a shaker and tin-can-type blip, as the women beg bigger questions – “Isn’t life under the sun just a crazy, crazy, crazy dream?” “Why am I here and not over, over, over there?” “Where do you and I begin?” But the existential crisis doesn’t last long, as the guitar kicks back in, the empowering chorus returns, and the song sees the addition of strings and synths for its last portion, fading out the song to its soothing finish.
Unfortunately we’ll get web sheriffed if we share the mp3 here, but you can grab it for free through the band’s mailing list by going here. As a consolation, see below for a video of the band performing “The Stillness Is The Move” at SXSW, and check out the Dirty Projectors’ recent collaboration with David Byrne for the fabulous Dark Was The Night compilation, “Knotty Pine.”
Dirty Projectors & David Byrne: “Knotty Pine” (download)
Dirty Projectors, “The Stillness Is The Move” Live @ SXSW
Other Dirty Projectors’ Coverage on T-Sides:
T-Sides’ 2007 In Review – Top Albums
Dirty Projectors @ Bowery Ballroom, Dec. 4th, 2007
Dan Deacon & Dirty Projectors @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple, Dec. 11th, 2008