The Dirty Three, a violin, drums and guitar trio from Australia, create brooding, tear stained, textured aural paintings from the barest of sources. Mick Turner barely hits any notes, let alone the right ones, and yet his deeply impressionistic guitar playing acts as the perfect foil to Warren Ellis' diving, rustic violin. In Ellis, The Dirty Three have one of the most committed, innovative musicians currently active; when not providing Nick Cave's coffin-heavy laments with a suitably gothic backdrop, his work with The Dirty Three is genuinely astounding, half improvised and yet always tightly woven to the stumbling beat and creaking guitar work.
She Has No Strings Apollo is the bands fifth record, and it stands as one of their best. Where recent albums have found them moving further and further away from the instrumental ferociousness of previous outings, preferring instead to bask in a kind of oceanic, languid post-rock, this latest release sees them returning, at least in part, to the intensity of their early masterwork, Horse Stories. Opening track Alice Wading carries a ceremonial elegance to proceedings, while the twisting, anaesthetised She Has No Strings is imbued with a stinging emotional weight, Mick Turner allowing the occasional rounded chord to slip from his guitar strings. The real beauty is to be found in Long Way To Go With No Punch, a gorgeously melancholic lament reminscent of the band's work on the equally astounding Ocean Songs.
While I probably wouldn't recommend She Has No Strings... to those beginning to investigate the Dirty Three's work, its ragged charm really is beautiful to behold. Even while the moments of frenzied catharsis are truly ecstatic, it's those quiet moments - frazzled, charred guitar, the barest hint of plucked violin, subdued clatter from Jim White's amazing array of broken down percussion instruments - that really remain.
8Tom Eyers's Score