Dirty Projectors

THE NEW SELF-TITLED ALBUM does everything we

want and expect from Dirty Projectors — but in a way

that we never could have imagined or anticipated. In

a career of surprising conceptual gambits, unexpected

stylistic shifts, and continually changing lineups — this

is, as DJ Khaled says, “ANOTHER ONE” !

A PROTEAN, SHAPE-SHIFTING CHAMELEON,

Dave Longstreth, the founding member and sole constant

Projector, goes where the music is: he builds his band

and arrangements around the songs he’s writing in that

moment.

Dirty Projectors is a BREAKUP ALBUM. These songs,

coming out of a place of heartbreak & depression, began

as private gestures of catharsis & healing. DL couldn’t

see any future for Dirty Projectors, much less imagine

these as Dirty Projectors songs, until he went to LA,

where Rick Rubin urged him that this is exactly what

they are.

The ABSENCE OF FEMALE VOICES — notably that of

the beloved Amber Coffman — becomes both the subject

of the album and the engine of its most inspired leaps:

allowing DL to branch out as a producer & arranger,

encouraging him to hone his songcraft, and forcing him

to focus on his own voice, to revelatory result.

Perhaps the greatest surprise is that Longstreth’s

VOICE — one of the most iconic & divisive in music today

— has gone from being a sometime-liability to his music’s

greatest and most expressive asset. The CHOPPING,

LAYERING, SPEEDING UP & SLOWING DOWN of the

voice is processing both literal and metaphoric: DL works

through the new absence on a course of self-examination,

interrogation, reflection. But his natural voice is the

great reveal: out of the black hole of loss comes a quantum

spark of CONFIDENCE & PURE FEELING.

From the baritone lament of Keep Your Name to the

crooning pathos of Little Bubble and the breathless falsetto

leaps of Winner Take Nothing, these songs establish

DL as one of music’s most VERSATILE, ORIGINAL

SINGERs.

The album flexes DL’s tremendous GROWTH &

STRENGTH AS A PRODUCER. Classic Projectors

trademarks are here — guitar, hocketing, powerful

three-part vocal harmony — as a foundation for a

new world of insanely fresh drum patterns, Rhodes,

Wurlitzer, brass choir, string quartet, piano, modular

synth, Kontakt and Arturia patches, all tied together

in dizzying next-level arrangements. DL is at the top of

his game as one of 2017’s most original producers in any

genre.

DL himself remains agnostic about genre and ecumenical

in his inspiration. In some ways, the album answers the

question Dirty Projectors posed way back in 2009 — before

the waves of nu-r&b and Beyoncé quoting the Yeah

Yeah Yeahs — with STILLNESS IS THE MOVE: what

would a post-genre collision of r&b, indie rock and other

music sound like? From the SUBTWEET BOP of Keep

Your Name to the DIGITAL BENEDICTION that is I See

You, this is truly GENRELESS MUSIC that pushes at

and expands the edges of what we’re used to hearing.

DL cites Karl Ove Knausgård, Joni Mitchell, and Drake

as his most passionately explored writers of the last few

years, and there’s a new DEPTH & LYRICISM in this

suite of richly complex songs. Self-reflection and fantasy

helix together in DETAILED LAYERS OF STORY:

rife in ambiguity, raging with doubt and ambivalence,

labyrinthine in their self-contradiction. Considering this

range, the NARRATIVE UNITY of the album is astounding.

Dirty Projectors is known for concept albums —

from the collaboration with Björk, Mount Wittenberg

Orca (2010), to the glitch opera The Getty Address (2005),

to the Black-Flag-reimagined opus Rise Above (2007).

And now Dirty Projectors is the most TAUT, UNIFIED,

CONTINUOUS ARC of storytelling yet — beginning with

the anger and self-recrimination of Keep Your Name and

ending with the forgiveness and reconciliation of I See

You.

DL has made a breakup album before: his first album,

the rare and out-of-print Graceful Fallen Mango, from

2001. Fifteen years later, Dirty Projectors is arriving

where you began and knowing the place for the first

time. The significance of it being a self-titled record is

clear: Dirty Projectors is both A HOMECOMING AND A

REDISCOVERY. Time is a spiral, and this is an astounding,

vivid, immersive piece of music — YOU JUST

GOTTA HEAR IT!

The story begins backstage after Dirty Projectors’ headlining

show at Carnegie Hall on the Swing Lo Magellan

tour in 2013. Lifetime achievement, playing Carnegie

Hall — but for the lead Projector Dave Longstreth it felt

like pyrrhic victory & hollow anticlimax. His relationship

was falling apart. People find solace in music, but

now DL found only anxiety and sadness in performing.

He spiraled lower as touring dragged on through the next

months. When it finally ended, he couldn’t seem to write

anything new. “I was pretty torn up,” he says of that

time, “pretty effing depressed.”

Sliding into 2014 with a triple crown of heartbreak, writer’s

block and crisis of confidence, and with his band’s

apparent future dark, DL began to work for other musicians

as a utility player. In that capacity, he managed to

:: write the bridge — melody, harmony & words —

of the Rihanna/Kanye West/Paul McCartney hit

FourFiveSeconds

:: produce the rhythm section — beats, basslines &

chords — of five tracks from Solange’s opus A Seat At

The Table, including highlights Mad and FUBU

:: score the 70-piece orchestral arrangement for Time

As A Symptom, closing track of Joanna Newsom’s epic

Divers

:: produce Azel, the third LP of the inimitable Tuareg

guitar shredder Bombino

Working for others, Longstreth honed his craft, seeing

his strengths & myriad weaknesses from a series of different

perspectives. “I got to collaborate with all these

heroes of mine,” DL enthused recently, “and getting to

work together that way — just them telling me what they

wanted, me trying to make them happy with what I could

come up with — was fun and actually sorta therapeutic.

“Plus,” he joked, “I figured since Rih sang my melody

and Wayne went on a beat I made, I was ready to die.”

Nonetheless, on a visit with Rick Rubin — who DL had

begun to check in with when he was in LA — Longstreth

first considered the idea that Dirty Projectors might

live again. Playing some rough demos and odds & ends,

agonizing over his creative impasse, DL heard Rubin tell

him, basically, ‘keep your name.’

On a commuter train between NYC and Hudson, where

he was now living, DL pushed samples around in the Edit

window of ProTools, returning to a style of beatmaking

he had experimented with while making The Getty

Address in 2005. A fan of the paintings of Agnes Martin,

DL said something finally clicked: “Rhythm is a grid,

and a grid is a crutch when you need one. It’s meditative.

Making those patterns is a geometric feeling. With the

river to my left, and the drum pattern for Work Together

in front of me, I felt a flash of a new beginning.”

Down in Brooklyn, he shared a practice space wall

with an old friend from his earliest NYC days: Tyondai

Braxton, the celebrated multi-instrumentalist & composer,

was in the middle of his own reinvention. DL recalls:

“In Battles, Ty took the guitar-voice-loop-pedal thing to

a place that no one else did, and then just turned around

and quit, and taught himself how to orchestrate like

Ravel and Varése. And now he was in there ten hours a

day learning modular synths!” Braxton’s constant curiosity

and fearless evolution was fiercely inspiring to DL.

It wouldn’t be long before they were shoulder-to-shoulder

tweaking new sounds.

With an idea for a new iteration of Dirty Projectors —

which has been the vehicle for Longstreth’s music across

seven LPs and three EPs since 2002 — DL walked

around his one-room house outside Hudson, NY, freestyling

melodies and developing song ideas for hours and

sometimes days on end.

Slowly lyrics and rough contours coalesced. In 2015,

after spending months in LA on various projects, DL

took the decision to move there full-time. Exodus from

Brooklyn complete, he built a studio on LA’s East Side in

a former cabinet factory and named it Ivo Shandor, after

the insane architect from Ghostbusters. At Ivo Shandor,

the finished recordings of Dirty Projectors came together:

DL laid down his vocal parts, his Rhodes, Wurlitzer, piano,

Juno, soft synth and guitar parts too. Mike Johnson

and Mauro Refosco built on the beats he made in Hudson

and Brooklyn with Braxton.

In late 2016 — with the horns parts down and the last

touches of mixing complete — the most epic Dirty

Projectors album yet was finished. The ineluctable path

that began in heartbreak and despair had delivered DL

back to himself, back to Dirty Projectors, and back to the

future.

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Top SongsAlbum
1
Sharing OrbMount Wittenberg Orca2:48
2
Beautiful MotherMount Wittenberg Orca2:16
3
On and Ever OnwardMount Wittenberg Orca2:01
4
No EmbraceMount Wittenberg Orca4:13
5
All We AreMount Wittenberg Orca4:43
6
When the World Comes to an EndMount Wittenberg Orca3:08
7
OceanMount Wittenberg Orca2:09
8
Knotty PineDark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation)2:22
9
Off Science HillThe Glad Fact5:09
10
Cool Your Heart (feat. Dawn Richard)Dirty Projectors3:49
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