Friday, August 24, 2012

Dirty Three - Toward the Low Sun (Drag City, 2012)

The reviews I've read about this record so far really puzzle me. This is the ninth record by this act and apparently folks want to hear the same thing they've heard from the other eight albums. To the untrained ear, their entire discography could sound the same, all being avant garde western-tinged wanking with the "pulling of the heart strings" twist. Ahh yes, let's be greedy, let's ask for even more! Let's long for them to be pigeon-holed a decade after their inception. Well, I say Fuck that. These guys have been around, playing live in various projects for thirty years and then some. Let them grow! They've evolved in a really gorgeous way and the critics are stifling them for no good reason. Yes, I'm ranting. I'm sorry. I suppose it also pushes my buttons that much of the negative criticism over this record is due to the free improvisation it presents. These veterans are actually pushing boundaries. Maybe not boundaries as you see them, but imagine playing with the same couple guys for fifteen years and trying to break out of your mold.

At its inception, its blistering. Jim White finally takes the reigns and leads the band into uncharted territory with his brilliant sense of nuanced percussion. In fact, for the first five tracks, he seems like a pied piper, orchestrating a deconstruction of everything that was Dirty Three. Whatever you thought is no more. Its like manna from heaven, as far as I'm concerned. There's a nonlinear presentation here. Its almost as if everything we're hearing is raw and unedited. I can't help but imagine the feeling of freedom that this process must have given them. And just when it gets a bit too intense, "Rain Song" brings us back around to the gospel truth that is the spine of this band's career, gorgeous in its depression, conflicted in its narrative, and hopeful in its intended resolve.

Toward the end of the album, the element of orchestration slips in, no doubt due to Ellis' film scoring with Nick Cave in the past few years, but I feel that the group only benefits from this environment.

Everything about this record feels new and I'm once again excited about this act. They're one of my favorite bands ever, and this is incredibly refreshing.

I don't know much, but I know this.... Never ever doubt a Bad Seed...

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