Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not Since "The Crunge"

I've never been able to count along with Zeppelin's mind-bending funker "The Crunge," have you? I can't embed the tune here, but this might give you an idea why. Like some of the crazy Balkan stuff I've heard (Ivo Papasov and others), which people somehow actually dance to (and I've tried), "The Crunge" somehow creates an otherworldly groove out of its shifting meters, as opposed to, say, the prog-rock of Yes, in which the aggressive time-signature changes stand out jaggedly; they sound calculated, "classical" (not that there's anything wrong with that--I love me some Yes, if only for the junior-high nostalgia).

The Dirty Projectors' brilliant new record Bitte Orca has many pleasures, but the song that continues to blow out my mind's speakers is "Temecula Sunrise." I love the way it builds from a sweet, folky acoustic guitar riff into rafter-shaking art-rock; I love the alternately off-putting and welcoming lyrics; I love the incredible surge of feeling it conveys; I love the Projectors' signature "hocketing." But above all, I've come to love that I just cannot count along with it at all. The harder-to-get this tease of a song plays, the greater my ardor:

Listen how the burst of "aaah...Temecula sunrise" (at 1:16, 1:25, etc.) seems to flood in early, between the beats of the meter that precedes it. My awe only increases when I watch Dave Longstreth in this mellow acoustic version: I can see him grooving to his own internal drummer, and Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian totally keep up, but I'm just as lost without a drummer (probably moreso). You can hear someone clicking and clapping along here, apparently to help keep time, and it's as endearing (and clearly intentional) as those two audible drumstick clicks you can hear in the studio version:

It turns out that Amber and Angel (along with drummer Brian McOmber) are even better than that. They play the bass and guitar parts along with their hocketing. I swear, the collective brain power of this band could power all five boroughs:

Somehow, an anonymous drummer was able to more or less take the song's pieces apart. Just try counting along with him:

I remain in abject awe. While this song may remain too prickly and sprawling too groove quite like "The Crunge" or like Ivo Papasov, it flows as naturally as Debussy, and just as sweetly. This is straight-up composing with rock instrumentation, and to my ears it points the way to bright and glistening musical future--not unlike a Temecula sunrise, I'd say.

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