Dirty Three – Toward the Low Sun
Over the Dirty Three’s career, a tension has become increasingly apparent: between the narcotic rapture of their live performances, and the sense of song-based narrative that drives the records. This was particularly evident on 2007’s Cinder, and like that record, Toward the Low Sun embellishes its core of violin, guitar and drums with additional instrumentation, including organ and piano. Yet its tone reflects a determination, as Warren Ellis has explained, to return to a more 'improvised and instinctive' sound.
The first two tracks explore the kind of flurried, loosely-structured approach to composition often downplayed in their later work. It’s later, on songs like Ashen Snow – which intricately entwines violin and flute – that the haunting melodies appear, and they remain subdued and tentative. Toward thus refuses to assert itself as a work of coherent, self-contained narrative, separate from the creative spontaneity and intuition that underpins it; and therein lies its formidable strength.