Scots Trad Music Awards 2015

Album Review: Dirty Three - Towards the Low Sun

Dirty Three – Towards the Low Sun

by on 23 February, 2012

in Album Reviews

Furnace Skies provides the supernova opening on Dirty Three‘s latest offering ‘Towards the Low Sun‘. Mick Turner whose artwork adorns the album cover provides ample bass and distortion on guitar against Jim White’s improvised freestyling on percussion. Through the angst the melancholic violin playing of Warren Ellis slowly emerges like a long lost friend but remaining understated. They maintain this approach throughout the whole of the first track, a bold statement, if ever there was one, that the Dirty Three are back.

The beauty of the Dirty Three’s music lies in its stark exposure which is heightened by the absence of words. There is nothing to detract from it…every snare, bowed and plucked string is right there in isolated space. It is intense and borders somewhere between a cinematic soundtrack and a heightened psychedelic experience. Towards the Low Sun has an improvised honesty to it, real yet otherworldly…Jim White adds to this feeling on ‘Sometimes I Forgot You’ve Gone‘ where piano provides a melodic canvas to his extraordinary percussion. Listen to those instrumental pieces seperately and you’d never consider amalgamating them but they work. The mystery is how they perceive such arrangements in the first place, therein lies their genius.

Moon on the Land‘ steadies the journey with a defined melody that allows the violin to blossom in all its caressful beauty. Hard to believe this sound started with Ellis sticking a guitar pick-up on his violin twenty years ago although that sound is a lot more refined now. There is something very uplifting about his playing which throws the perception of melancholy into turmoil.

Rising Below uses the tried and tested approach of the Dirty Three…first three quarters of cinematic sound followed by universal turmoil and disintegration. This is definately not a regular feature on Towards the Low Sun, approaches vary on each track…there is nothing obvious about this album at all. Every track offers a new discovery, whether it’s the rhythmic rain fall cymbal taps on Rain Song or the interplay of guitar and violin it is a gratifying experience. Between them they play like a jazz trio, they all have their moments of lead and there is a deeply rooted respect of eachother’s musicianship a perfect place for propagation of ideas as this album has proven.

The album’s finale ‘You Greet Her Ghost‘ is as fitting an exit with all three riding the wave of Turners crescendos. It left me with no doubt that this is their masterpiece, one that will not fade from memory and will beckon again and again.

Towards the Low Sun is released on Bella Union on the 27 February. Click here to pre-order it from the Bella Union website.

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