Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Dirty Three 

Whatever You Love, You Are (Touch and Go)

The problem with instrumental music is that there's a tendency to use it as aural wallpaper: a pretty pattern that stays at the edges of a room and knows its place is to beautify without distraction. It can have the opposite impact, as a rump-shaking dance soundtrack filled with beat-laden notes will attest. Australia's Dirty Three has consistently found the rarely used middle ground of wordless musical endeavor, where the songs and the arrangements are compelling, involving, and utterly engaging.

Although the Dirty Three has explored similar sonic textures over the course of four previous albums (including 1998's brilliant Ocean Songs and the import-only soundtrack to the film Praise), it shouldn't be misconstrued as being stagnant or unoriginal. The most fascinating aspect of the Dirty Three's sound is the diversity it manages to squeeze from Warren Ellis's violin, Mick Turner's guitar, and Jim White's drums. White, in particular, is a marvel -- somehow performing all the functions of a normal rhythm section without the bass guitar, sometimes setting the pace and sometimes subverting it, but always fashioning the perfect foundation.

On Whatever You Love, You Are, the trio revisits the moody and sweeping melancholy of Ocean Songs, this time with more atonality and subtle rhythm shifts, as though the band has added Miles Davis as an influence in the intervening two years. Turner's guitar is more muted here, which offers room for Ellis to keen and reel and produce a sound that's unsettling when it's at its most unobtrusive. One of the truly magnificent qualities of the Dirty Three's disturbing soundtracks is that they compel the listener to pay close attention, sometimes creating a sound so provocative that, after listening to it, you'd swear there were words telling a story.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

  |  

More by Brian Baker

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 9, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation