Whereas most of us would struggle with recording and touring in just one successful band, it seems that Dirty Projector’s bassist Nat Baldwin has other ideas as he releases his most cohesive collection of solo songs to date. His new nine-track album In The Hollows sees him further strike out on his own to explore original string compositions that go some way to bridge the gap between experimental and classical.
Marrying delicate song writing and minimalistic instrumentation, his sparse yet multi-faceted numbers are self-confessedly sculpted to “achieve a consistency throughout that my past albums have lacked”. With the concept of less is more and an ambition to make his music “as unsettling as it is beautiful”, the release runs true along a central string quartet theme and as such there is little in the way of variation.
His chosen path is not limiting as you would expect however as, with the expert help of Otto Hauser (Veliver, Lia Ices, Espers) on percussion, and Rob Moose (The National, Antony and the Johnsons and Bon Iver) and Clarice Jenson on strings, he creates beautifully beguiling tracks that are artfully crafted.
Lyrically dealing with a vast range of topics from isolation, intoxication and boxing, Baldwin is keen to show that chamber music can be current as traditional instruments are brought into a more modern place. His mournfully high vocals adds another layer of juxtaposition and spiralling notes within tracks like “Wasted” give the whole effect a surprisingly edgy quality. The minimalism at its core allows an eerie space to exist within the structure and this is where Baldwin’s aim of unsettling is achieved.
Different techniques are used throughout the album to create drama, allows a variety of emotive narratives to be explored; “Knock Out” has an animalistic feel with its stalking bass notes, whilst the title track sees more frantic bowing build tension. Pizzicato is also embraced on “The End of The Night” for further foreboding with spine tingling effects.
As the In The Hollows title metaphorically suggests, in the simplistic recesses of Nat Baldwin’s composing sits the album’s appeal.