Dirty Three, Toward The Low Sun
After a long silence, it's like they never left
The long silence separating Dirty Three’s last album, 2005′s Cinder, from their latest effort is uncharacteristic. Up until that point, the (almost exclusively) instrumental trio had cranked out seven albums in a decade. So what caused the mysterious hiatus? From the opening moments of Toward the Low Sun, it becomes clear that whatever else they were doing, they weren’t hatching a radical direction.
And that’s an all-together good thing. Low Sun is recognizable, from the first bars of the opening track “Furnace Skies,” as a Dirty Three album: a glorious assemblage of incongruities, drummer Jim White’s furious solo underpinning a languid strum by guitarist Mick Turner and the sepulchral scrapings of violinist Warren Ellis’s fiddle.
In interviews to promote this album, Ellis has ascribed the Three’s long absence to a fear that they might have exhausted their supply of ideas during their initial fecund period. There is no sign of that hesitancy on Low Sun. They seem to have simply remembered what it was they were good at – inventive, occasionally off-kilter arrangements that find liberation in the absence of a singer – and doubled down on it. The best moments on Low Sun are stunning – the bereft sigh of “Sometimes I Forget You’ve Gone,” embellished by mournful piano, the perfectly titled wintry lament “Ashen Snow,” one of Ellis’s prettiest works yet. It’s like they never left.