International Pop Underground: Dirty Projectors Remain Ever-Changing with Their New 5EP "Constellation"
Dirty Projectors have had a busy 2020. Well, release-wise. Dave Longstreth – the 38-year-old American who's led the shape-shifting project across two decades and nine albums – has been at home in Los Angeles the whole time, raising a quarantine puppy into a full-grown dog. But the project has been wildly prolific, releasing 5 EPs – Windows Open, Flight Tower, Super João, Earth Crisis, and Ring Road – in the space of 8 months.
The first four EPs find a different member – Maia Friedman, Felicia Douglass, Longstreth, Kristin Slipp – taking on the role as solo vocalist, before the fifth finds the whole band in voice, delivering Dirty Projectors' familiar contrapuntal harmonies.
This stream of new music is, in its non-regular format, a response to the streaming times; its "multiple-EP constellation" able to be consumed from varied listener perspectives. Though Longstreth notes that he "loves the album" ("I've made a lot of albums!"), he's sanguine about the new paradigm. "There's no one context anymore," Longstreth offers, in conversation with Anthony Carew on The International Pop Underground.
"I liked the idea that you could listen to this [one] song. Or you could listen to this song with its four friends, as an EP. Or you could listen to this song with these EPs kinda constellated as their own Dirty Projectors Cinematic Universe, and then maybe that's a double-album!"
It's the latest wild outing for a musical vehicle that has proved both restless and resilient over time; musicians passing through, Longstreth remaining at the centre, chasing ideas at once experimental and pop, conceptual and intuitive. Dirty Projectors have been getting spins on the IPU since their 2003 debut The Glad Fact, a strange record (with a... confronting cover) that hardly suggested a long, successful, pop-crossover career to come.
"Even with that first record, I imagined that Dirty Projectors could be my shadow, walk along with me through life, and be a reflection of the music that I was interested in bringing into the world. I always thought of it as a moveable feast, and changeable beast," says Longstreth. "It comes out of where I am, what my thoughts and feelings are."
Feature image: Jason Frank Rothenberg