Dirty Projectors @ The Arches, 15 October
On most billings, Dirty Projectors’ fellow Brooklynites Callers would comfortably be the most inventive and striking outfit. Sara Lucas’ richly dramatic vocals provide a sense of tonal coherence to a set that skips quickly between moods: vertiginous, spiralling guitar lines trade places with hypnotic riffs and disorienting chord shifts, and the quartet’s no-bass, three-guitar approach allows them to pursue some impressively fleet-footed polyphonic melodies.
Dirty Projectors, however, remain peerless among contemporary bands in terms of the sheer audaciousness and originality of their approach to song. If the scope of David Longstreth’s conceptual ambition is impressive enough on record, its flawless realisation in the live context is simply astounding: in a set that covers much of their latest LP Swing Lo Magellan, peppered with highlights from 2009’s Bitte Orca, the sextet seem almost symbiotically entwined.
Perhaps most striking is the virtuosic performance of the three female vocalists, whose high-pitched, staccato harmonies sound even more unearthly and disorienting in a live setting. Swing Lo Magellan has been hailed as a relatively normal record, but its subtle complexities are evident here; these songs, like Longstreth himself, possess an entrancingly odd combination of warmth and otherworldly distance, and their disparate elements are consummately united tonight.[Sam Wiseman]