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  She Has No Strings Apollo  
  Dirty 3  
  Touch & Go  
Release Date:
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Does one need more than one Dirty 3 album? I ask this question here, rhetorically, because it is never a question that i ask myself as i go about my life. There are days when Ocean Songs is just a perfect fit, and days when Whatever You Love You Are describes the general mood. I can't quite put those moods into words, but i can tell a difference.

And, like all Dirty 3 albums, She Has No Strongs Apollo carries a mood. It moves forward under methodical rhythms and soaring violin that propel the listener to a certain mood. An inarticulable mood perhaps, but a mood nonetheless.

So maybe it is less that individual Dirty 3 albums invoke a mood, but rather they can get you from Mood A (whatever you happen to be experiencing that day) to Mood D (which is a sort of melancholy calm that is reflective and yet ready for anything).

Okay, that said, i think that you do need more than one Dirty 3 album. You need all of them, really, because this is passionate expressive music of a type that is rarely seen. I liken what the Dirty 3 do as being closer to jazz than to rock music. These songs don't have choruses and verses, rather they ebb and flow and grow and breathe in a way that is almost organic. I often find myself listening to Dirty 3, and a particular solo seems as if it is the only natural thing that can come after a particual riff, or guitar passage, or whatever. It all just fits together so well.

That said, let me help those of us who are new to the class to catch up. Dirty 3 are a three-piece: Warren Ellis on violin, Mick Turner on Guitar, and Jim White on drums. (All of them play with lots of other bands too, but let's just ignore that for now.) There are no vocals. The three musicians are all masters of their various instruments, and they play with that sort of subconscious fluidity that a long time together will develop in a band.

Dirty 3 songs tend to be long meandering affairs: six minutes is about average. During that time the music will grow and change in ways that, although seeming only natural, will astound you if you think about it. The glory of The Dirty 3's music is not in how their songs start out, not in how they end, but in the long journey between the two places.

There are two songs on this album that stand out to me, after repeated listens. Which is not to say that the other 5 songs are weak or bad, just that they all fit perfectly well within the violin-guitar-drums world of The Dirty 3, and thus need no further explanation. The two exceptions are Long Way To Go With No Punch and Rude (And Then Some Slight Return).

Long Way To Go With No Punch is perhaps the most classical song they have ever done. It consists mostly of Ellis's mournful violin combined some tinkling keys (likewise played by Ellis) and a slow arpeggio from Turner. White occasionally adds some subtle cymbal crashes and low bass drum hits. This song is subtle and soft and beautiful. Really well done.

If Ellis shines on Long Way To Go With No Punch, then Rude (And Then Some Slight Return) is Tuner's chance to shine. This song features, and i swear i am not making this up, a power rock guitar solo. No kidding. There you are, at the end of a nice Dirty 3 album, listening along and enjoying life, when suddenly Mick Turner stomps on his overdrive pedal and the guitar wails and screams a shout of rage and frustration (presumably at the normally stately progression at which it is forced to move). Shocking, really. And brilliant -- totally unexpected and still well executed.

So you see, even though much of The Dirty 3's music has a certain sameness to it, they are still growing, experimenting, trying to expand their horizons. I have a lot of respect for that.

One of the songs that does not feature different instrumentation and which i do really enjoy is No Stranger Than That, the middle of which is full of a great fast-paced violin section. Ellis is sawing away like crazy, and Turner and White have to hurry to keep up. It is well done.

One final note: the recording on this album is exquisite. It is produced by someone known as F.Lor, and i have no idea who that is. At any rate, whoever Dirty 3 have worked with for their past 4 releases has done a wonderful job of balancing the disparate elements of their sound. Drums don't overpower, nor are they lost in the mix. Violin leads sometimes, and follows guitar other times. Guitar grinds away, but only swells to the forefront of the sound when such a swelling is necessary. Dirty 3 releases have become wonderful exercises in recording balance.

Overall, this is another fine album from a singular band. There isn't much else out there like this, and i highly encourage everyone to give them a listen. After all, we could all probably use a little more Mood D in our lives....

Related Links:

Whatever You Love You Are, their previous full-length.


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