Last year, Dirty Projectors and enigmatic avant-pop singer Björk collaborated on Mount Wittenberg Orca, a seven song suite that was performed live at a benefit for the AIDS/Homeless service organization Housing Works. To the surprise and delight of many, they also found time to put the composition to tape last month at Brooklyn’s Rare Book Room Studio as a very “live” recording, only overdubbing “lead vocals and a guitar solo”. It’s now been made available for download to benefit another worthy cause — the creation of marine protected areas through the National Geographic Society.
This piece, written by Dirty Projectors’ frontman and guiding creative force Dave Longstreth, was inspired by an experience bandmate and co-vocalist Amber Coffman had on a hiking trip on Mount Wittenberg in Northern California. Looking out into the Pacific Ocean, Amber saw a small family of whales swimming across the top of of the water. Longstreth crafted his suite as an imagined dialogue between the mother whale (parts sung by Björk), the baby whales (parts sung by Dirty Projector sirens Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, and Haley Dekle), and Amber (parts sung by Dave Longstreth). And it’s as beautiful as one might imagine. With playful, pretty guitar plucks and strums, a few slow drones, soft and sweet lead vocals, and some dense, complexly interlocked harmonies, these songs come together in a way that belies their relatively hasty composition and recording.
Take a listen to one of the Björk-led tracks down below, then go donate to a good cause and download your copy. A minimum donation of $1 per song ($7) is a superb deal, but give more if you can!