Today, Dirty Projectors release Earth Crisis, the fifth and final the band has been releasing throughout 2020. In 2007, Dirty Projectors released Rise Above, a reimagining of Black Flag’s seminal 1981 album Damaged. The album was out, but Dave Longstreth kept working through the musical material, spooling out arrangements of the songs for wind quintet and string quartet. In February 2008, Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) recorded these arrangements at the Greenpoint, Brooklyn church where they’d recorded parts of Yellow House and Veckatimest, with New York City musos Sam Hillmer (Zs, Diamond Terrifier) conducting. Shortly after the session, Projectors embarked on a three-month tour; when they came up for air, Dave got distracted writing Bitte Orca and never finished the orchestral Rise Above.
When he found the lost recordings on an old hard drive last year, Dave began reworking them – looping, pitch-shifting, deconstructing – and reseeding the resulting orchestral collages with new vocal melodies. “To me it felt like ecological processes: recycling, making new life from old,” he says.
These collages form a harmonic ground for Dirty Projectors vocalist and keyboardist Kristin Slipp to take center stage with her strong soprano lead. Earth Crisis’ environmental undercurrent emerged out of the metaphor of the musical process – recycling, reuse of materials – and its title arrived serendipitously, a playful nod to the eponymous hardcore legends and to the Rise Above source material. From here, themes of environmental collapse and eco-dystopia poured organically into the lyrics Slipp and Longstreth wrote collaboratively.
The Earth Crisis EP arrives today with a short film of the same name written and directed by friend and longtime collaborator Isaiah Saxon of Encyclopedia Pictura (Björk, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors’ “Up In Hudson”). Encyclopedia Pictura is a Los Angeles-based film and animation studio whose passions include gardening, villages, friendship, science visualization, social ecology, adventure, and country living. The Earth Crisis short film features a special medley mix of the EP’s songs, and tells the prescient and poignant tale of an elderly woman alone in the arctic wilderness.
With music owing as much inspiration to J Dilla as Igor Stravinsky, the mode of Earth Crisis is through-composed art song. While penning the lyrics, Kristin Slipp and Dave Longstreth considered a 21st Century rewrite of Gustav Mahler’s epic symphony, Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”). Find the full credits for the EP and short film below.
On November 20th, Dirty Projectors’ diverse and dynamic sequence of EPs released in 2020 will culminate in a twenty-song anthology titled 5EPs, out digitally and physically via Domino. With each installment fronted by the voice of a different band member, 5EPs marks the group’s growth, transition and communal power, which has prevailed even in this most isolating of years. Thus far, guitarist Maia Friedman led the existential folk of Windows Open, keyboardist and percussionist Felicia Douglass helmed the super-future soul of Flight Tower, Dave Longstreth delivered an intimate João Gilberto homage on Super João, and now Kristin Slipp brings her keening and surreal soprano to Earth Crisis.
5EPs will be available as a standard black double LP, with a clear version exclusive to indie stores, as well as a CD, and a deluxe box set of five 12″ colored vinyl. Pre-order 5EPs on LP and CD here, and pre-order the limited edition, foiled and numbered box set here.