Touch & Go
It’s funny that Dirty Three have been around for over a decade, that they were one of the progenitors of the casually maligned sub-genre of indie rock known as post-rock. The band shows no predilection for the bloated ruminations usually found in their offspring. Instead they create concise and focused dreams where the band hovers over the meandering notes like a doting parent maximizing the time in each short-lived epic. There’s not much maelstrom on Cinders, with most of the sound creaking quietly out of mandolin, guitar, gently brushed drums and the autumnal swirl of violin and viola. It feels distinctly like a Midwest soundtrack, along the lines of Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting, rustic score to David Lynch’s The Straight Story. When the trio sets up the barn-burners, though, the momentary release has a cleansing effect, purging the need to use the standard post-rock formula of build up/crescendo/come down. “Doris” and “The Zither Player” are set between two wobbly free-rock numbers, and their tight riffs and layers of melody don’t feel the least bit out of place.
Cinder sees the band breaking type and including vocals for the first time with Cat Power on “Great Waves” and Mekons’ Sally Timms on “Feral.” Timms’s wordless coos don’t amount to much beyond a pleasant usage of voice as an instrument, but Cat Power’s turn is an incredible minor chord masterpiece, instantly recalling her previous work with Dirty Three on her Moon Pix album. It’s no mistake that the song appears in the dead center of the album and extols with words the same emotional heft and imagery created solely through music for the rest of the disc. This is as good an entry as any other in their beautiful back catalog.
Touch & Go: www.touchandgorecords.com