The violin as a guitar. I saw Eddie Jobson make it compelling with Roxy Music, essentially halting the show for a virtuoso display during the Country Life tour, and I saw Nigel Kennedy take apart a typically staid Dallas concert crowd in the late 90s. But Dirty Three’s Warren Ellis is a league above both, a towering mop of a man who swept in to replace Blixa Bargeld as a Nick Cave musical foil in the mid 00s.
Watching Ellis soar during the Bad Seed shows beginning in 1998 was to see a guy come out of nowhere and match stage presence with Cave. He was preceded mostly by his work with Dirty Three, which put out its first U.S. release, Sad and Dangerous, on Touch & Go Records in 1995. Which made Ellis even more formidable; his pedigree heretofore was negligible. It didn’t matter a bit. Dirty Three quickly became a force of its own, propelled by the profile Ellis received as a Bad Seed. Toward the Low Sun, the first D3 release in seven years, stakes no new territory. If it sounds like a continuation of previous efforts, well, it is. It’s the next CD. Like the others it moves easily between the crashing of drummer Jim White and the smooth lines set down by Ellis and guitarist Mick Turner. When Turner and Ellis collide—“That Was Was”—it can introduce a troubling dash of fusion in the sound, which has always threatened D3’s purity. But most of the time, Low Sun is an easy march into the disturbed soundscapes that make no sense. And that’s praise. [Drag City]
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