When I was grappling with the Dirty Projectors’ “Bitte Orca” a while back, I came to the fairly trite conclusion that I liked the band best when Angel Deradoorian or Amber Coffman took the lead, rather than David Longstreth.
I’m indebted, then, to Jake from the Love Pump United label, who last week sent me Deradoorian’s debut solo EP, “Mind Raft”, which is quite wonderful. Longstreth is listed as executive producer, and various other members of Dirty Projectors, TV On The Radio, Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear all figure in the acknowledgements, anointing “Mind Raft” as very much a product of the current Brooklyn illuminati.
No problem with that, of course, and what a wonderful record it turns out to be. There’s still a generally brittle quality to these five songs, but unlike much of the Dirty Projectors’ work, they don’t seem overburdened by complexity. In fact, the opening “Weed Jam” (a superbly unsuitable title, given what those words normally infer), simply pits wordless multi-tracked harmonies against minimalist breaks, a crisp mixture of (faintly medieval) church music and hip hop; someone here wisely mentioned David Axelrod, which perhaps amounts to the same thing.
Everything here is great, actually. “You Carry The Deed” is a beautiful, soul-inflected acoustic ballad which would sit neatly as an adjunct to that blessed run of “Stillness Is The Move” and “Two Doves” on “Bitte Orca”. “High Road” and “Holding Pattern” have a kind of crepuscular intensity that remind me a bit of another Brooklyn act, Telepathe, though Deradoorian generally works with orthodox rock settings rather than with synthpop, and she’s technically a much stronger singer.
The standout here, though, in very elevated company, is the final “Moon”, dust-gathering liturgical drone-folk that reminds me a little of the first couple of Marissa Nadler records, and of Fursaxa, the witchiest outrider in what used to be called, quaintly enough, the acid-folk scene. It all amounts to one of the best things I’ve heard all year, and I’m hearing some very interesting rumours about what she might have planned for an album…