Angel Deradoorian is a former member of the Dirty Projectors. As one of the band’s vocalists, she contributed to many of their trademark harmonies and long, sustained cries that used the singers’ voices more like an instrument than just a way to deliver words. Some of that sound creeps into her solo album The Expanding Flower Planet, but for the most part, Deradoorian chooses a bold, new direction.
The album, which will be released on August 21 via Anticon, appeals to my San Francisco roots: it’s filled with vibes that convey peace, love, and more than a hint of psychedelic drugs. Deradoorian’s voice ranges from serious and mystical to singsongy, like a butterfly that lands on your hand only to flit away suddenly, flying this way and that through the air. On tracks like “The Invisible Man,” the Middle Eastern inflections in her singing are perfectly mixed with echoes of her voice, low sustained tones, and rock drums. On other songs, however, the percussion seemed overwhelming yet too simple, even childish under the range and layers of her voice.
The Expanding Flower Planet is trance-inducing, but with it’s many, many percussive parts, vocal lines, and a constant stream of lyrics, it’s too busy for passive listening. The best song comes first with “Beautiful Woman,” which recalls Deradoorian’s work with the Dirty Projectors but repackages the sound in shiny, polished pop. Other noteworthy tracks include “Darklord,” which features a trilling surf guitar, the monk-like chanting of “Ouenya,” and the high-energy track “The Eye.” “Komodo,” a song about running from the deadly lizard with a fatal bite, was also enjoyable for its playfulness.
The Expanding Flower Planet is a fun trip through someone else’s mind, someone who may be in another universe entirely. It’s a great listen if you need to completely change your frame of mind. And, on some distant flower planet, aliens are probably dancing to it somewhere.