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Dirty Three

A Lesson in Humanism With the Dirty Three

Warren Ellis and friends return with another love letter written in their secret language.

by Khagan Aslanov

The last Dirty Three album is now 12 years old, but it isn’t like the band has sunk into oblivion or been resting on its indie laurels. Guitarist Mick Turner is releasing new music at a steady click, and drummer Jim White’s name can be found in dozens of recent liner notes. As for violinist, noise artist and primary Bad Seed henchman, Warren Ellis, he’s been particularly busy, scoring films alongside Nick Cave, writing a book about Nina Simone’s chewing gum, and even setting Marianne Faithfull’s recitations of romantic poetry to music.

The modus hadn’t changed for the Three in a long time. It never really had to, since there isn’t another band like them out there. Yet, on their latest, Love Changes Everything, small, elegant deviations surface. The loud parts are louder, song titles go the Anthony Braxton/Dadaist route, and Ellis’ semi-new propensity for shimmering, scraping drones is on fuller and brasher display. Still, the underbelly of Love remains the same. It is the same exuberantly melancholic post-rock and straw-crisped Americana that make you want to take a long drive into the middle of the woods and have a quiet cigarette in a mute abyss.

Plenty treat creation as a medium for the grandiose or emotional or strange. But there are few who have the heart and skill to commit to art’s most banal and treacherous path the way Dirty Three do. Here again, they gather to deliver something that is unimpeachably beautiful.