Dr. Perry Alexander

The University of Kansas

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Swing Low Magellan - Dirty Projectors

Just picked up Dirty Projectors’ Swing Low Magellan last week and have become completely smitten by the thing. Funny thing that I’ve owned Bitte Orca for quite some time and never really paid that much attention to it. Particularly surprising given all the rave reviews it got. I just didn’t get it. I think I get it now.

Dirty Projectors is kind of a disjointed, pop/rock/alt band that seems to not know what it is sometimes, but in a really good way. I would love to describe the first track on Swing Low Magellan, but I can’t. It alternates between screaming electric guitar and quiet, almost chorale style chords and singing. Don’t know what to make of it, but I do like it.

Track 2, About to Die, is among my favorite songs on the album. Think reggae from space and you’ll get an idea of what this is about. The bass and drum are almost difficult to follow until you think reggae. Not literally, just in rhythmic feel. Again with the nice, big chords in the vocals and alternating rock/vocal kinds of things with the constant rhythm tracks underneath. It really doesn’t sound much like a track called About to Die, but the lyrics really are about that. Really nice.

Gun Has No Trigger is quite similar. If the Beatles had today’s technology back then, I’m guessing this would have appeared right after Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds way back when. Now Dirty Projectors are no Beatles, but they sure are fun.

Other favorites include Just from Chevron and Impregnable Question. The former adds jangley electric guitar and sticks with quite vocals throughout.

I remember that I love dissonance, particularly in rhythms, and I start to understand why I like this work and going back to Bitte Orca why I like that as well. Funny how that works. I guess I was in a different mood when I picked it up originally. Highly original music that is definitely worth your time.