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Dirty Is Beautiful

Dirty Three
Whatever You Love, You Are
(Touch And Go)

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Dirty Three is one of the most consistent bands around, despite their only having three members playing three different instruments. Of course, they get a lot of distance out of these three instruments, reworking and coaxing more sounds out of them than any punk rock trio will ever dare to do with theirs.

One thing that a fan of the group might notice about the album right away is that it's more orchestral than some of their older work. While many times on Horse Stories or Ocean Songs they would simply crank up the volume on one or more of the instruments, on this release they've layered them and it adds a completely new dimension to their music. Of course, the main instrument they do this magic to (and it's simple, really) is Warren Ellis' violin, sometimes making him sound like a string quartet all by himself. While their last albums were amazing in more of a stripped-down way, Whatever You Love, You Are is amazing in that it's more lush sounding.

With 6 songs that run almost 50 minutes, this is a shorter album that either of their previous two releases, but it's no less effective. The very first track on the disc "Some Summers They Drop Like Flies" makes use of the above mentioned layering of violin and after a slow crescendo of an opening, the violins start weaving around and through one another in an effect that raises the energy of the track without doing so with the volume. On one of the groups best tracks ever, "I Really Should Have Gone Out Last Night," Ellis plucks his violin over a steady waltz of drums and guitars by Jim White and Mick Turner. It hovers along with such a delicate sound that it often sounds like it just might stop and break, but after Ellis emerges with a slow solo in the middle, it's evident that it will hang on to the end.

After an intro that sounds like a string section warming up, "I Offered It Up To The Stars And The Night Sky" emerges slowly as if from a cocoon and drifts along slowly until the frenzied ending. "Some Things I Just Don't Want To Know" sounds like it could have come off the soundtrack to an old western movie with the raggedy percussion, while "Stellar" contains some of those slithering violin parts that Ellis is so adept at. The album closes with a tranquil crescendo on "Lullaby For Christie," and it serves as a lovely ending to another excellent album from the group. Basically, if you enjoy any of the releases by the group that you've heard thusfar, you're not going to go wrong with this one. Like a favorite piece of well-worn clothing, Dirty Three is one of those groups that you can count on.

Rating: 8.25