Dirty Three – Toward The Low Sun

Neil Martin gives his opinion on the long-awaited record from Dirty Three: 

Toward The Low Sun is Dirty Three’s first album since 2005 and the band have reconvened after a busy few years working on other projects. The album sees them attempt to return to the improvisatory nature of their earlier albums and there are certainly moments where there is a real sense of that freedom, locking into each other’s playing and just seeing where it takes them. Opening track Furnace Skies is a great example of this and fires different ideas off every few bars all centred around Jim White’s skittering drum work, which is astounding throughout the album. The instinctual feel that all three band members have for each other’s playing is quite something, while at other times the songs have a slow, measured, stately feel and a meticulous level of craftsmanship.

Whereas the majority of post-rock has an almost post-apocalyptic feel to it, the music of Dirty Three is much more bucolic and pre-industrial. It is in this way that many moments on Toward The Low Sun bring to mind Ellis’ work (with Nick Cave) on the soundtrack to The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford; gently maudlin piano and violin that bring to mind cornfields and open plains and an indefinable sense of longing.

Where post-rock often seems to soundtrack global catastrophes, the music of The Dirty Three soundtracks personal, intimate tragedies. At other points, particularly the exceptional That Was Was, the band explode into life and unleash an intense focused rockist bent. Ellis manages to make his violin sound like Neil Young’s White Falcon as he releases a squall of feedback and distortion across a country blues backing.

Toward The Low Sun rewards repeated listens and the focus and artistry of the trio’s playing begins to really reveal itself on the third or fourth listen. So often instrumental music is seen as background music but this demands your attention in order to really appreciate the intricacies and emotional punch that Toward The Low Sun carries.

Review by Neil Martin.