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Beautiful Music From Down Under

Dirty Three
Ocean Songs
(Touch And Go)

Dirty Three is one of those bands that I just know I'll still really enjoy 30 years down the road. It's not that I think I'm going to turn into an old curmudgeon and start disliking electronic music and a lot of the other stuff I have, it's just that this group in particular has put out some of the most timeless music I've heard in the past several years. The three piece instrumental group (violin, guitar, drums, and the occassional piano) create some of the most stirring music you'll ever hear, even without a vocal track. The three members of the band are all seasoned instrumentalists; Jim White (drums, percussions) and Warren Ellis (violin, viola, piano) work on side projects in addition to the group and Mick Turner (guitars, melodica) is a member of The Bad Seeds (Of Nick Cave fame).

Ocean Songs differs quite a bit in theme from last years Horse Stories, mainly in the tempo of the tracks. Whereas Horse Stories turned raucious on several tracks and cranked up the noise factor a couple notches, Ocean Songs is mainly a slow, meandering ebb and flow of an album, fitting the album name (and individual tracks title) perfectly. The fourth track, "Authentic Celestial Music" is a nine-minute opus that breaks down to nothing more than light brushes on a trap and minute guitar sprinkled with guitar plucks before increasing in volume a bit, then dropping off again. It goes through this motion several times before building to a crescendo highlighted with the nearly-always mournful violin playing of Ellis. So goes nearly the rest of the album, from the quivering violin background of "Black Tide," to the other epic, the 16-minute track "Deep Waters."

One thing I find amazing about the group is that even though they are only a trio, they never fail to come up with new sounds and directions for their music. Most threesomes (I can name quite a few pop-rock groups off the top of my head) in music are lucky to bang out similar sounding album after album, but The Dirty Three always manage to find a way to do something different. This is probably their dreariest album to date, but it still manages to work amazingly simply because of their excellent musicianship. If you ever drown, this is the music you'll hear after you stop kicking and sink to the bottom. Don't worry, that's a compliment.

Rating: 8.25