Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”

I should’ve written about this tune a while ago.

But I didn’t, so whoops? Whatever. Anyway, I’m going to try and articulate what it is about this song that makes me want to cry (in a good way) without just writing “AMBER COFFMAN’S VOICE A;LSDKFA;DLK.”

That said… AMBER COFFMAN’S VOICE. You might’ve heard an ethereal female voice in Rusko’s “Hold On” (see below)

or in Major Lazer’s “Get Free” (see below; god bless animated music videos)

and thought, “Damn, who’s this Amber chick?” So lemme give you a rundown.

Unlike many electronic music guest vocalists (with the exception of the divine Justine Suissa and at this point, Eva Simons too), Ms. Amber Coffman has a sizable musical catalogue, talent, and background beyond her dance track guest verses. She’s also super cute, but I digress! Anyway, she’s one member of Dirty Projectors, which is an experimental pop group: Think The New Pornographers meet “People”-era Animal Collective.

“Stillness Is The Move” isn’t All About Amber (okay, maybe just a little). It’s a beautiful track that sums up all the great strengths of the Dirty Projectors, namely their insanely tight musical arrangements. One of their most distinct musical features is their use of punches of female vocal harmony, evident in songs like “See What She Seeing” or “Gun Has No Trigger,” with frontman Dave Longstreth taking over lead vocals.

What makes “Stillness Is The Move” so special to me is that it showcases Coffman’s incredible lead female vocal and then weaves it with the other female voices in the band (I’m guessing they now belong to Haley Dekle and Olga Bell, since Angel Deradoorian’s on hiatus). It’s an easy song to get into—the opening drum and guitar groove is sparkly and inviting, albeit just a touch rhythmically uneven, and Coffman’s slightly distorted voice seems to wrap around the lyrics (which are apparently based off a monologue in the German film “Wings of Desire”).

But it’s the chorus that’s easily the most stunning part of the song, save for Coffman’s denouement vocal run. After all that we’ve been through… The female voices soar up the register, and the pitches between the voices are off just a bit, causing enough aural abrasion to affirm their natural integrity. And beyond the lyric linked portion of the chorus, the wordless singing hook afterward… I have no words. That they hit every step of the hook, and then sing up to a diva-like top note without sounding shrill at all is just, what, what is happening to my ears in the best way possible.

Oh yeah, and they can throw this all down live too. They played at the Wiltern last Saturday, and the entire time, I wanted to cry because as good as they sound recorded, their live performance was disgustingly gorgeous. All the orchestral layering in their songs comes alive when they’re playing, well, live.

Check out the tune below in this truly strange but kinda adorable music video. Forest animal spirit shepherds, much?

(Image: Mountain Dew by Corey Olsen)

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