Label: Self-released Release date: 30/06/10 Official Site Before I begin, let me just say that this EP is one where the concept is more grandiose than the performance. Yes the major draw here is hearing both Dirty Projectors + Björk together, but the ideas that they are expressing are something like this: Björk is the voice of a whale, the girls of Dirty Projectors being the rest of her pod. Dave is the voice of an observer, possibly a whaler, confronting his emotions whilst looking at the whale – the whale does the same whilst looking at the man. Now that is not too much considering this is the man who wrote an entire opera about a suicidal Eagles member looking for the shape of love (or an eleven minute song about two sheep looking to sleep), but still enough to make Mount Wittenberg Orca that much more impressive, showcasing a band who functions as a chamber ensemble while proving Longstreth to be a forward thinking composer. Much like any good suite, the first moments are utilized for an overture. The trio of familiar female voices intones shifting chords against DP’s bassist Nat Baldwin’s skilful drone. Immediately the sensation of chilliness enters, akin to the shock of the shouted backing vocals of ‘Fucked For Life’ or the use of Auto-Tune on strings for ‘Useful Chamber.’ This is a band that plays to its own strengths while exploiting weakness – Angel Deradoorian, Amber Coffman, and Haley Dekle are used to the vocal gymnastics but the acoustic bass has difficulty sustaining (as do most bowed instruments due to draw, but that’s some techie shit there). Sure it seems like a throwaway at first, but the thematic element of these shifting chords is an important one, more so than Björk’s first appearance as a whale singing about how “Our love is all around us.” It’s also nice to finally see a well-recorded version of ‘When the World Comes to an End,’ if nothing else for the ridiculous hocketed vocals that make up what should be a guitar part. Dave’s voice is in great form here, sounding a little more vigor-filled than on ‘Emblem of the World’ or even most live performances of this song. Pardon the summation here, but each song is an entity that makes the story. ‘On and Ever Onward’ definitely sets up Björk as the ‘mother whale’ while ‘Ocean’ set up the girls as the voice of a shifting pod before giving them the first piece of true genius. ‘Beautiful Mother’ at first listen is just some self-reference (‘sitting on the ridge at dusk,’ natch), but there are so many small shifts and feats of musicality. Count from one to six, now fit this sentence in the space of that: ‘We are listening in to how to sing a simple rhythm, listen.’ Barring a theory rant, it’s a damn difficult move that is of Zappa-level ratio exchange, a move that propels the writing prowess of Longstreth from impressive to amazing. No longer is he just writing things like ‘Sharing Orb’ (which uses a vocal figure more akin to the Rise Above string parts than Bitte Orca vocal dynamics), but he is utilizing his own skill as an arranger and conductor to push the limits of the human voice. It’s a skilful move, and one executed flawlessly, beautifully. Sure ‘Sharing Orb’ is my personal favourite, primarily for finally using Björk for her Björkiness. Every ‘Ooooh’ or rough edged syllable is so typically Björk that you can tell she was written for, like any good composer would do. “Ceaseless hunger around/Until the sea is silent/And deadly quiet but for an engine,” sings the main whale implying some sense of doom before singing of ‘Enormous love [and] a sharing orb of wonder we all call our own mother.’ Verse lyrics here are used to invoke the human error from the point of the animal, “Your weapons, your noisy spells…they drive me upward into the deadly light.” It’s worth mentioning that Björk sounds better here than on Volta, and seems to actually be experiencing the fear of the whale, voice softening on the uplifting chorus and crackling with emotion and a sense of urgency on the verse. Each part thus far has been building up the ‘No Embrace,’ a song that is half ‘No Intention’ and half ‘Tour Along The Potomac.’ Finally the feelings of Longstreth’s character are confronted, “And the only other one who I could ever believe/Is the one I could feel but never really see/Looking from the island at the deep.” The feeling of want and love conquer the want of blood and oil, Hollywood style, before reconciling via duet. ‘All We Are’ confronts the two, pod of whales providing the chorus (like the finches of The Getty Address). “And through an infinity we could see all and all is all we are” is the final conclusion of both parties, cathartic in the realizing of this. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Well, it’s been nigh on a week of listening to this and noticing nuances of the performance and writing. At the end of this time, it’s safe to say that this EP is a fitting successor to Bitte Orca’s marked entry into a focus on the band as a whole and the more collaborative phase of the band. Sure the concept is as outrageous as the fine female voices, but why would you expect anything less? I want to hear this performed by a college group, just to prove how well written the music is, primarily because the constant shift of backing voices shows the true talent and time spent to get this stuff down to such a perfect T. Hopefully the promise of a new DP’s LP by the end of the year will pull through and be as good as their past run of releases, but only time will tell. Photobucket