The indie music scene has definitely taken off in new directions the past few years. Not only has the entire style become less and less “indie” with time but heavy hitters have dominated the changing of the sound with smooth transitions. Dirty Projectors are currently one of the field’s most musical bands and as one of the heavy hitters, they’re definitely aware of their surroundings. So rather than rushing out another release, they’ve solidified their ranking with a tremendously wonderful EP with Björk on Mount Wittenberg Orca.
On last year’s Bitter Orca, it was mostly the women’s voices that carried the album into soaring highs. After proving their styles on Rise Above’s wildly inventive arrangements, it took the focused R&B of “Stillness is the Move” and the string-laden beauty of “Two Doves” to make everyone realize that yes, these women could sing. There’s nothing different on Mount Wittenberg Orca; everyone is singing their part and in such beautiful fashion, too. In time, in perfect harmony and united together, adding Björk to the mold almost sounds downright perfect.
After hearing Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle lend their pipes on the opening song of The Roots’ How I Got Over, “Ocean” hits like a crashing current. Each voice manipulates the soundwaves, moving up and down in pitch with the slightest of alterations. It’s not only reminiscent of the droning sounds of Gregorian chant but each female is singing with full force and vigor – they crash against each other while complimenting each other all the same. “On and Ever Onward” acts as the lifting lullaby with Björk acting as the track’s leading songstress. Hearing the Dirty Projectors’ singers pop syncopated eighths behind her is enticingly glorious; eventually they all sing “Our love is all around us” to the warmth of an absolutely invigorating opening.
But what really makes Mount Wittenberg Orca such a satisfying release is just how endlessly creative everyone is. On “Beautiful Mother” the band takes a simple guitar melody and adds choral structures, a stomping bass and a twirl of other variances onto a song that recalls some of the loose structures of Rise Above. Dirty Projectors still sound best when they’re experimenting and when working with someone who is arguably, much better than you, it very simply ends up benefiting all.
With everything going towards the National Geographic Society Oceans Initiatives, there is much acclaim to be given for musicians who bring forth their best each and every time. There is cohesiveness here, there is a strong theme throughout, there is terrific musicianship and a gorgeous melting of voices all in between. Closing it all out with the somber togetherness of “All We Are,” they each go hand in hand as if they were meant to be – kind of like an ocean and its beach – hopefully it isn’t the last time they meet.