There have been many attempts to integrate instrumentation, other than the guitar, bass, and drums format, into so-called rock music. Many bands have gone through an Eastern or psychedelic phase, adding strings, tabla, or some other seemingly eccentric instrument to their sound. For the most part, bands like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and others make these new instruments sound out of place in a rock setting. But the Dirty Three -- an aptly-named Australian drum, guitar, and violin trio -- create an hour of music on this self-titled album that takes the experiments of their predecessors and coalesces them into a beautiful whole. Violinist Warren Ellis is a magician -- the sounds he coaxes out of the instrument range from conventional melody to washed-out feedback noise. On "Indian Love Song" Ellis starts off with a gentle plucking of the strings, but midway though this ten minute drone he's on another planet, wailing away in a Pete Townshend meets Thurston Moore vein. This album does not follow a strict melody-cacophony structure though. Mick Turner plays along perfectly with Ellis, crafting subtle guitar lines that complement his counterpart. All the while drummer Jim White uses a keen selection of shells, tambourines, and God knows what else to keep a beat. The band seems equally assured in playing quiet pastoral passages ("Kim's Dirt") and ferocious rock ("Everything's Fucked"). Their music is cinematic -- moving at varying paces through different emotions. Where most bands have come up short in both creativity and execution, the Dirty Three have it right.
Dirty Three Review
by Marc Gilman