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Dirty Three

Post Rock/Math rock

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Dirty Three Horse Stories album cover
3.15 | 18 ratings | 4 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 1000 Miles (4:40)
2. Sue's Last Ride (7:22)
3. Hope (4:53)
4. I Remember a Time When You Used to Love Me (6:11)
5. At the Bar (6:39)
6. Red (3:54)
7. Warren's Lament (8:44)
8. Horse (5:38)
9. I Knew It Would Come to This (8:38)

Total Time 56:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Mick Turner / guitar, organ
- Warren Ellis / violin, vocals (8)
- Jim White / drums, percussion

- Andria Degens / vocals (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Mick Turner

CD Anchor & Hope ‎- AH001CD (1996, Australia)
CD Bella Union ‎- BELLACD132 (2007, UK)

2LP Touch And Go ‎- TG165 (1996, US)
2LP Touch And Go ‎- TG165 (2008, US)

Digital album

Thanks to chamberry for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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DIRTY THREE Horse Stories ratings distribution

(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(61%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

DIRTY THREE Horse Stories reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Australian post- and prog-rockers from Dirty Three release their third album, called Horse Stories, in 1996, polishing it through a most usual and eager burn of music and expression, a typical but also drastic set of experimental ideas and a flawless hexed-heavy imagination and emotion intermingling the luster and the exposure of all the technical and conceptual fruit fashion. All of this was previously crafted, but Horse Stories sounds finally as something different, something "completely better", though it's far from a most favorite.

With these first three albums (Horse Stories topping as the album with the biggest intensity, but, just the same, as the one that supreme the band's style), Dirty Three played a lot of experimental dark-aired post-rock, with typical influences or resounds from the ambient, atmospheric or nu-sound musical world. Each album (Sad & Dangerous, highly experimental and sound-cut, Dirty Three, hazy and static, and now Horse Stories, char-fully tonic) plays its critically good role, but this album seems for sure to be all what fans, listeners and addicts could wish for and like to listen. Speaking of which, the ways of enjoying Dirty Three haven't changed majorly during this time, so that they're enormous to the taste and shape of post-rock, but perhaps they're not as much enourmous to anyone's likes.

Horse Stories further on exhausts a general impression about how Dirty Three are (or aren't) fit within the post-rock universe. It sounds already late to think they don't have a round style, since all the atmosphere and the sense of experimentalism, of long sound dreams and of craving heavy melodies, all of this has, from album #1 immediately, outlined Dirty Three in one full side of post-rock, while eliminating them from other full such sides. Horse Stories, repeating the quintessential out of Dirty Three, explodes only on the quality measure and on the vicious sound. Math or indie music-free, with no relation to the garage or sound-morphing techniques as well, but neither mazed in serenity and soundscapes, Dirty Three play a mixture of experimental expressions and disjoints, in a full cloud of post-ambient, post-melodic and post-instrumental rock - Horse Stories wrapping tight the elegance and the stress, the lusciousness and the deliriousness, the ample and the ashed out of such a style.

The album 9 pieces that are, by themselves, enough to listen and feel (or not) impressed; though they have a highly tendentious minimalism and a rookie-like emotional comply, most of the melodies, especially those that fool out some dance-like sprinkles or an ethnic drop of spontaneous forms (what ethnicity, I couldn't tell...), make you feel the texture and the hauling kind of the music. But Horse Stories, beyond its compositions, sound like an album that grabs and beholds you in a most complex way. Starting from the heart of the music, the material, despite not being experimental per se, is complicated, unnatural, frenzied, intense and a bit nonsensical , heavy or rather too hallucinogenic, artistic or perhaps too shattered by its own complex seed. The biggest examples that stands both as a nerving defect and an elementary quality is the supreme amplitude of the sound and the music: the trio doesn't have force, boost and "mega bass" up their violin-bass (guitar)-drums improvisations, therefore every pieces, even if ambient and sound-creative, is after all dry, purely reflexive and abstract (in sweet forms). A lot of the most successful pieces are a brand of minimal (even repeated) melody and "grand hall harmony", but have the grace of musicality. To a conclusion, Dirty Three intrigues, instigates and insulates its music into fine-tuning post-rock, pretentiously profound and figurative elations, heavy art and simple but stubborn expressionism (counted as modern rock, mattering as atypical sound).

The band definitely groomed an independent powerful style of music with their first three albums, Horse Stories is the best.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
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.

Review by Warthur
4 stars 1996 was a very good year indeed for Warren Ellis. As well as being the year he became a full member of Nick Cave's backing band The Bad Seeds, after some well-received guest spots on classic albums of theirs, it also saw the release of Horse Stories, a fine project from his Dirty Three project. Though the band are a trio, it's Ellis who's the star of the show, laying down emotive and powerful violin solos over the laid-back musical backing of Mick Turner and Jim White. It's an intriguing post-rock sound which puts me in mind of the artier sort of Westerns, and comes recommended to any post-rock fans who like albums with lots of violin.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars DIRTY THREE is an atypical post-rock power trio, well maybe flower trio because of the folky instrumentation of violin (Warren Ellis), guitar (Mick Turner) and drums (Jim White). The bass parts are shared by Warren Ellis (also a member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and Mick Turner. They deliver a strange sound as they are both folk music and post-rock for the most part with outbursts of frenetic grungy rock freak outs at times, at least on their third album HORSE STORIES. I first checked out DIRTY THREE with their following "Ocean Songs" and was slightly underwhelmed because after this album they tone down a lot by keeping the entire album calm, slow and easy. It was a nice pleasantry and all but never inspired me to dig deeper into their discography. After having discovered HORSE STORIES, i was amazed at how much more diverse sounding their first three albums are.

While HORSE STORIES has plenty of placid post-folk-rock tracks that are similar in sound to the future albums, there are several tracks like "Sue's Last Ride" that begin nice and calm with the folk & country sounding violin along with the post-rock twangy guitar accompanied by the drums that slowly and gently transmogrify the mood into faster accelerating tempos that eventually reach a grunge and folk freakout. The music is never complicated and takes its time to develop but these guys have a playful way about how they weave their respective patterns around each other. I'm really not even sure why this works for me but it does!

While the styles of most of the tracks are similar whether they be slow and melancholic or bursting with energy in their familiar post-folk-rock sound, they also include an unexpected Greek song called "Mia Phora Thymamai" in English titled "I Remember A Time When You Used To Love Me" written by Yiannis Spanos. This very much sounds like a European folk song in post-rock form, it is clearly the oddest track on the album.

DIRTY THREE are not technically proficient musicians to say the least. Anyone expecting complex song structures, lightning fast virtuosity or ridiculously progressive time signatures can look somewhere else. This band is all about setting the tone for a mood and i certainly have to be in the right mood to enjoy it. While i find the later albums are more about mediation and sleepy time, this album actually has some serious rocking parts to it, even resulting in noisy cacophony at times. An acquired taste perhaps, but i'm glad i discovered the earlier chapter of this band.

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