A change of pace from the recent look at piano and string based instrumental music, the Dirty Three are a three piece band from Melbourne, Australia. Made up of Warren Ellis (violin), Mick Turner (electric guitar) and Jim White (drums) this is a band that has, in one form or another, played with the likes of Will Oldham/Bonnie’ Prince’ Billy, Cat Power, Bill Callahan and many others.
Most notably, Warren Ellis played for a time with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and has collaborated with Cave on the award-winning score of the film The Proposition, and then collaborated again on the score of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. . Mick Turner, aside from playing guitar on their albums, also runs the record label that Dirty Three are signed to, Anchor and Hope plus he creates all the artwork for the band’s albums. And finally to Jim White, who has got a long and impressive list of projects that he’s been involved with and is apparently the kind of drummer people get all extreme about.
Dirty Three create the sort of music that would be as much at home in a sleepy, smoke-filled pub as in the home of the family man as he reads his Sunday morning paper. A combination of folk and improvised rock meanderings, their later recordings sit nicely in the background of any situation, being neither overly melancholic nor experimental. Rather, most of their music follows Celtic, folk threads and creates an amazing warm and wistful atmosphere mainly via the strings which essentially give the Dirty Three their unique sound. Listening to this music can make you feel outside of where you are, it really takes you away to somewhere else. I’ve never really heard anything like it before and I find myself listening to it all the time.
Sometimes scratchy and raw, sometimes finer and more melodic, Ellis’ violin is the star, that said we must never underestimate the value of well placed beats and complementary chords and sounds. These guys know how to put it together. Want to have listen, check out Sea Above, Sky Below for something mellow or try Alice Wading for their more raw and scratchy, boisterous jams.
Sad & Dangerous, 1995
Dirty Three, 1995
Horse Stories, 1997
Ocean Songs, 1998
Whatever You Love, You Are, 2000
In The Fishtank #7
She Has No Strings Apollo, 2003