Review Summary: Not only do we get another Dirty Three album after a seven year drought, but we are treated to one of the most incredible recordings of their career.
It’s been seven long years since post-rock legends, Dirty Three, have released a full-length studio album. In said time gap, the trio has done some collaborative work with artists such as Grinderman and Nick Cave, as well as performed live with their typical fervent energy. Lovely asides these have been, sure, but after the experimental journey that was 2005’s Cinder
, fans have been yearning for a true album worthy to wear the band’s prestigious name. Enter Toward the Low Sun
, an album that deftly earns the right to sit alongside Dirty Three’s classic Ocean Songs
and Horse Stories
Toward the Low Sun
was not the typical “deliberately planned” studio album. After taking some time off, the band reconvened for a string of shows, only to realize the palpable energy present during their performances could easily be captured. Instead of working towards crafting their eighth full length, they decided to jump in with both feet to see where it took them. This certainly explains the very “stumbled upon” feel found in Toward the Low Sun
. Dirty Three, as usual, forgo clearly defined song structures and instead opt for something much more organic. This time, though, the compositions seem even more formless, even more undefined. And frankly, the album is all the better for it.
Warren Ellis, Mike Turner, and Jim White’s scintillating paradigm is as perfect as always, with Ellis in particular stealing the show once more. Ellis’ vibrant and evocative violin work has consistently been a central sound in regards to Dirty Three’s work, and is still immaculate in its blissful and deceptive simplicity. The perfectly composed violin lines do not get by on themselves, however, as Turner and White create a wonderful back drop for the band’s music. White’s precise drumming is impressive on its own merits, but when paired with the soundscapes, he displays a keen sense of his musical surroundings. Together, the band emits a sound more confident and captivating than that of post-rock bands more than twice their size; an impressive feat indeed.
With Dirty Three’s eighth studio album, one would expect a bid of re-treading to occur. And while it’s easy to pick out obvious nods to their older material, the band has done quite a lot to expand their musical horizons, nearly 20 years into their career. Towards the Low Sun
is much less experimental than Cinder
in a sense that it doesn’t feature the same wild energy and large array of instruments, but at the same time feels much more exploratory. The nine songs contained within the album sound much more free-form than a lot of the bands past material, seeming almost spontaneous even. “That Was Was” and “Moon on the Land” meander about in a dazed fashion, but the end result is absolutely beautiful. However, when the band fires all cylinders with a fully constructed song-as with “The Pier” and “Rising Below”- one is treated to some of the most ingenious instrumental rock in years.
Toward the Low Sun
, like all Dirty Three records, is phenomenally refreshing in its beauty, poise, and ingenuity. The band has been a constant force in the genre, continuously displaying what arises from the combined passions and creativity of people who simply love to make music. Dirty Three have crafted another stellar album, proving once again why they deserve their legendary status.