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Toward the Low Sun


Other albums by Dirty Three

Dirty Three 22/8/2012


Toward the Low Sun ends a seven-year silence for Australia's Dirty Three. During that time, violinist Warren Ellis has been part of the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave's film scoring partner, and an integral part of Grinderman. Drummer Jim White has played with Chan Marshall, Bonny "Prince" Billy, and Nina Nastasia. Guitarist Mick Turner released a solo album and established himself as a painter. Toward the Low Sun is simultaneously a look at their collective past and the future appearing on the horizon. Opener "Furnace Skies" is an urgent showcase of the band's wealth of ideas -- even if they all rush out at once -- with White's drums furiously clamoring in circular motions accompanied by a nasty, distorted bass (guitar) ostinato. Ellis' violin, and organ and Turner's guitar layer themselves on top. Insane but focused, its controlled chaos is reminiscent of the wildness on Horse Stories. Turner and Ellis alternate on organ and piano throughout the album. The latter instrument plays a skeletal yet melodically haunting role in "Sometimes I Forget You're Gone." White's drums rail in skittering intensity as Turner solos expressionistically 'round the edges, creating a space for Ellis' violin. The effect is comforting, and even mournful, while sounding dangerously over the rails. Dirty Three's ability to imaginatively stretch time in their harmonic and rhythmic invention with a variety of dynamic, textural, and timbral strategies has always set them apart and made them sound fresh. Sparser, slower tunes such as the beautiful "Moon on the Land" and "Rain Song" are allowed to whisper themselves into being, hovering and following a melodic trajectory that evokes elements of high-lonesome folk music, blues, and even imagined landscapes via creative use of sonorities. On "That Was Was," rockist urgency is its own crashing endgame. When propelled by Turner's gorgeous chord voicings and White's fragmented, 4/4 beat, the distortion Ellis employs on his violin with country-blues phrasing is pure passion. "Rising Below" is slow building its tension, but it eventually reveals the band at its squalling, ship-tossed-about-in-the-storm best. Closer "You Greet Her Ghost" begins with White's rolling tom-toms and Turner's idiosyncratic fingerpicked chords. Ellis plays around a melody rather than asserting one. Eventually, the listener discovers the melody exists between Turner and Ellis, with White as the bridge. Toward the Low Sun is crushing in its sadness, unrelenting in its sweetness and pure aural emotion. It's the measure of proof of how powerful and original Dirty Three are at their best. ~ Thom Jurek
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Furnace Skies Dirty Three 4:44
  3. 2 Sometimes I Forget You've Gone Dirty Three 3:46
  4. 3 Moon on the Land Dirty Three 4:46
  5. 4 Rising Below Dirty Three 5:42
  6. 5 The Pier Dirty Three 4:49
  7. 6 Rain Song Dirty Three 3:45
  8. 7 That Was Was Dirty Three 3:57
  9. 8 Ashen Snow Dirty Three 5:12
  10. 9 You Greet Her Ghost Dirty Three 4:47

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