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Dirty Three - Horse Stories CD (album) cover

HORSE STORIES

Dirty Three

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.16 | 18 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
1 stars Dirty Three are Australian Post Rock and as much as I would like to support my own country and give this album a high review, the fact remains that this is very dreary music and I am not a fan. It just meanders on forever with droning violins, miserable structureless music that has no defining hook. This may even slot in to rock in opposition at times, but it is a weary slog getting through this. The first track, '1000 Miles', is a prime example of how to bore me listless, when it comes to music, with violins that scratch out tuneless drivel and guitars that are sporadically placed creating a very depressing sound.

'Sue's Last Ride' is more of the same, the violins are better sounding on this but once again the post rock format is rather downbeat, and I have no time for this type of music that registers sadness on every note. The drums by Jim White on this build up better and are perhaps the best thing on the album, played with feeling and finesse. The jazz fusion style drumming is at times aggressively improvisational. The track builds to an intriguing tempo where a very noisy fractured cadence is blasted out, provoking feelings of chaos or loss of control.

'Hope' has a strange sound, almost bluegrass with very quiet ambience settling into a rhythmless mood. The lack of metrical pattern is mesmirising at first, but then I grew tired of it. Violins can be put to great use in prog such as VDGG's violin period or even Comus' early material, but Dirty Three, overdo their use and it grates on the nerves.

I actually liked 'I Remember A Time When You Used To Love Me', especially the guitar work on this by Mick Turner. The violins are satisfactory on this and there is a much stronger melody, that grew on me. The heavier guitars kick in and I was delighted at the much more cohesive or focussed approach to the music. Towards the end the music is all over the place, a freak out of chaotic noise, but I consider this a highlight.

The experimental sounds continue on 'At The Bar' with its minimalist guitar and layered violins. There is no beat at all, and this is even sadder than previous songs. Perhaps it is the man at the bar drowning his sorrows over a cold one after his lady has walked out on him. Perhaps I might listen to this the next time I feel depressed, or perhaps this music would make me feel worse.

'Red' has some nasty drums that crash over a semblance of noise with violin and guitar. Once again it is interesting for about a minute and then you just want to turn it off. The violin is excruciating on this, like scraping your nails down a blackboard. The violin shrieks like a tortured child, and the drums are like hammers smashing down, the guitars are just freaking out. Is it enjoyable? You be the judge, but I found it disturbing.

'Warren's Lament' is named after Warren Ellis the violinist obviously so you might expect a violin solo . For the most part that is what you get and it is languorous to the point of delirium.

'Horse' is another highlight due to a compelling rhythm and very nice violins played duel style both by Ellis of course but the two violins sound terrific together and dare I say it, perhaps this is how they should be heard as it adds a texture that resonates and brings the music to a new level of power. In fact this is the only uplifting song so far on the album but it is too late I feel, as we have already been bombarded with one depressing sonata after another, a brain drain as far as I am concerned.

'I Knew It Would Come To This' ends the album and I was glad it had come to an end to be honest. This last track takes an eternity to get going. It finally moves into some weird ambient sound that I will instantly forget as soon as the Cd is ejected. The violin sweeps are as melancholy as ever, and this may feed the emotions of some depressed individual, but I am not interested in being dragged down by music, innovation is one thing, tugging and evoking the negative emotions is another, and this music does that for me, and it is not welcome. I actually felt nauseaus with all the violin swoops that sound off colour and effectively were dragging me to the depths of despair. I have heard some downer music such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but somehow the creative vibe and overall atmosphere is compelling on their albums, not so with Dirty Three's "Horse Stories".

Overall, this is simply not my style of music, you may have picked that up, and it is not the genre but the way the instruments are used that I object to. I could never enjoy this album, and will perhaps never return to it. The band members are obviously talented but it is of no earthly good if the music does not appeal, apart from 2 tracks. I can see this appealing to your average Post Rock fan, whose ears have been attuned to the music, but this is extremely niche and will only appeal to a very small sector of prog fans hence the lack of ratings here on their albums. My opinion is you should first really check these guys out online before forking out for this album, as the music may disappoint you as much as it did this reviewer.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 1/5 |

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