The last time the Dirty Projectors played here it traumatized me, and this is why I'm writing this. Now, I realize that with Ilyas Ahmed, Congs for Brums, Xiu Xiu, and Grouper on the bill, this might be a little overwhelming, but don't freak out; get there early, squeeze up close to the stage, and let the Projectors make strange magic for you.
Live, the Projectors' classical arrangements vis-à-vis barbershop quartet harmonizing and avant garde rock melds into this funky, trippy kind of R&B'd folk rock that can get all afro Cuban/dirty-south jamboree just the same as it'll step out on an icy, bare, minimalist branch and balance there a while.
I haven't heard anything like the Projectors so I'm not going to compare them to anything. Dave Longstreth's vocals run wild and off kilter, but never out of tune as he picks through intricate note patterns rarely seen in Western music. For a while I thought he was using Javanese or Hare Krishna scales and rhythms as his base, but it's something more than that, something spacier—like space blues, but not blues at all. See, this is where it gets complicated. How do you explain something your brain hasn't come to terms with yet? MySpace comment 10/30/06 reads: "Your set stopped me and my friends in our fucking tracks. Never heard a sound like that before... thank you guys vurry [sic] much for creating something so intensely new and joyous-ish." Pitchfork says, "Spare, one-man acoustic songs, disjointed blues, melodic lo-fi indie, lush classical string arrangements, and bristling electro—Longstreth's dived into all of it with equal aplomb." AllMusic.com writes, "The combination of the sweeping strings, woodwinds, and brass with Longstreth's small, keening voice throws each element into even sharper contrast."
Unlike the above, I have a harder time with concrete specific descriptions of this band and usually just babble about joy and vibes and exuberance. While that doesn't work too well for a show preview, I'm fine with being a little baffled by this music. In a time when we struggle to quantify and compartmentalize everything, it's nice to sit back and be in confused awe of something. I hope the same happens for you.
The Dirty Projectors play Disjecta (230 E Burnside) on Sat Nov 4.