gracefulmango

Several years ago I was running/writing the mp3 blog Uncommon Folk. It quickly emerged as a fairly popular destination for music lovers to find the latest in independent indie-folk music. It also connected me to a lot of amazing fans, artists, labels, and other people in the music underground across the world. I was receiving boat loads of free albums and schwag for myself and to give away on the website. I was getting on guest lists at shows to see bands like Grizzly Bear play in front of maybe 50 people at the Empty Bottle. Sadly, those days have come and gone for me. While I still keep in touch with a few friends I made back then, a good number of the bands I covered have gone on to hit it (relatively) big and, you know, I kind of dropped off the face of the earth for a few years. One band I have never gotten over that I was introduced to during my time doing Uncommon Folk is Dirty Projectors.

Dave Longstreth is an exceedingly nice man in person. He’s also really tall and kind of intimidating. But that is kind of how it goes with genius, right? You know, quirky, nice, imposing, wildly intelligent, and with a bent to write concept albums about Don Henley. So it goes. As most people know by now, Dirty Projectors are one of the most original, inventive, genre-bending, and distinct bands of our time. They are also incredible live. While I have not seen them with the ladies at the helm, Dave always compiled only the best of touring musicians for his road show and records. No matter the guise, no matter the form, Longstreth and Dirty Projectors always bring it, and the history of the band really does start with Dave, in a bedroom, recording songs under his own name—if only for one album.

The Graceful Fallen Mango was released by This Heart Plays Records in 2002. I’m not sure how many copies were pressed or if it ever had a vinyl release along with the CD (I’m guessing not). I also have little to no idea about the record label. As I recall, I received my copy from the awesome and estimable Western Vinyl who would later put out the bulk of Dirty Projectors albums. The entire album was recorded by Dave in a basement (with a few guest appearances) using mostly guitar, bass, and sparse percussion. It was, as you may have noticed, released under his given name, but is also considered to be the first Dirty Projectors album. On The Graceful Fallen Mango, you will find a lot of the qualities that have become staples for the band’s current sound. There are the hints of African guitar rhythm and style; the big, bombastic bass drum; exceedingly complex vocal harmonies; and, naturally, the strange psychedelia that is the Dirty Projectors sound. Since it was recorded on a 4-track, it’s only so deep and the production is only so good, but that really doesn’t deter Longstreth from adding a plethora of layers to even the simplest of tracks.

Ultimately, if you are fan of Dirty Projectors, then you will love this album, but Dave’s solo work also has the potential to attract a lot of more casual music fans. There is something very sweet about The Graceful Fallen Mango, something a little more intimate than what comes across with a fully functioning and improvising band. You know, the bedroom album, the one we all grow up kind of hoping to create, joining the ranks of our solitary sonic heroes. (Technically, the album was recorded in his brother’s basement.) Strangely, this record has never been reissued (to the best of my knowledge) and it’s kind of fallen of fthe radar of both the band and the record label’s websites, history, etc. I’m guessing that since Dave and company are now collaborating with the likes of David Byrne and Björk that it is only a matter of time before The Graceful Fallen Mango is back in real record stores and not just floating out there on the internets.

— Josh Honn

Dave Longstreth: The Graceful Fallen Mango (2001)
1. Spring Is Here
2. Follow Me not If You Still Care
3. Easily Resigned
4. I Don’t Know
5. Lay Down Restless Bones
6. Constellation That’s Mine
7. Time For Bed
8. She Turns To Ash
9. What If I
10. The Graceful Fallen Mango
11. Maggie And Me
12. Everything Will Happen
13. We Are Striving
14. Yield; Be Held (Aloft)
15. At The End Of The Day

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