A meticulous second installment in serial EP output
The Brooklyn-based experimental pop project, Dirty Projectors, have just released Flight Tower, the second installment, which proceeds Windows Open, in their planned five EP sequence of 2020. Although not completely fleshed-out yet, the collection of all five EPs is up for preorder, which will be released, in sum, on December 4, 2020. Each EP is set to feature a different member as the primary vocalist, so each member gets to taste vocal sovereignty while the fifth and final EP will feature all members’ voices “trading verses.” In Flight Tower, it’s Felicia Douglass’s turn to wield the microphone.
The first of the four tracks, “Inner World,” opens with Douglass’s wispy vocals and a simple piano chord progression that soon glides into elongated vocals accompanied by a really bizarre noise-beat that sounds like sterling being scraped and gnarled. Her voice is somehow airy and viscous at the same time as some guitar arpeggios accentuate her vocal range in the bridge. The main refrain straddles between “in a world” and “inner world” like a double malapropism, creating a really mystifying effect as the ear tries to form something familiar from the phonetic ambiguity.
The second track, “Lose Your Love,” feels like the “single” off the EP. Its simplistic structure, especially with the catchy “I never want to lose your love/ I never want to let you down,” lends it not only easy listenability but a propensity to dance as well. It sounds like the lyrics may be of a more melancholic theme, but she sings with an uplifting attitude she mirrors from the poppy, cheery synth. That weird metallic crunching sound makes another appearance, albeit in a new, variegated incarnation, so the weird still perseveres throughout while the track reluctantly swings into the conventional. And, although it’s a track laden with production sleight of hand, it never becomes overwrought.
Third track, “Self Design,” ventures into deeper, more philosophical themes as Douglass cries out the revelatory “what was once understood is visible.” This track signifies a shift in musical arrangement as it becomes more minimalistic as opposed to the first half of the EP; it now is gradually down-shifting to reach its reverberating end in “Empty Vessel,” in which a metronomic beat leads distorted echoing vocals to the final fade out at the 11th odd minute.
From the intentionally misleading hooks that phonically deviate from the song title and the intricate, visceral and mostly experimental R&B beats, Flight Tower is kind of trippy, or illusory. Douglass’s voice jogs to mind a vision of her being the benevolent harbinger of a secret text replete with occult theories on how love is somehow linked to dormant psionic powers that also influence people’s metaphysical makeup. Listeners are in for a pocket-sized head trip.