I read a lot of press releases. It comes with the territory when you run an online music blog. The purpose of a press release is to entice you to listen to the music, often by offering comparisons. And when you compare the band you are promoting to other bands, you want those other bands to be something that other people have heard of.
So i was surprised when the press release for Lapse of Passage by Chicago's Mute Duo compared the bands sound to The Dirty Three. In all of the thousands of press releases i have read, this is the first band i have come across to be compared to The Dirty Three. And, seeing as i am rather fond of The Dirty Three, i had to give this a listen.
And yes, i can hear it: the drummer, Skyler Rowe, plays a scattered jazzy style while Sam Wagster's pedal steel guitar wanders alongside it. There is a bit of The Dirty Three in this. Huh.
And yet, is this is a good comparison? The Dirty Three made odd, instrumental, vaguely jazzy, mournful music. Were they popular? The only time i saw them live it was at The Point (RIP) in Little 5 Points, and that venue held, what, 100 people max and it was pretty sparsely filled for The Dirty Three.
So what is the point of a press release that compares an unknown new band to a somewhat obscure older band? I guess that the target audience was, well, me. Dammit, i hate when marketing singles me out, and yet here i am, thoroughly enjoying a record that i listened to because it was compared to another obscure act i like.
The record consists of eight songs in just under 45 minutes. The first one is called Derived from Retinas and is a lovely scattered piece. The guitar whines long slow notes that echo past and around the brushed drums.
On Past Musculature Plains there is a nice layer of fuzzy distortion on the guitar, which makes the clattering of the drums seem even more raw. The songs gets nicely dense and busy in the middle. Canopy Bells continues this trend with brushed Dirty Three drums and echoed guitar building to a nice galloping climax, the guitar a whirr and the drums chaotic.
Mute Duo give us an interlude next, A Timbre Profile which is under a minute of slight ambience that fades into Overland Line. On that tune the drumming is insistent, Rowe adding a steady thunk and a nice shaken bit while the guitar soars and grinds. Very nice.
It sounds like they add in a piano on Dallas in the Dog Days, and they accompany it with that scattered drumming and a nice whining pedal steel layer. This is very pretty.
Red-winged Blackbirds is chaotic, the drums clashing unexpectedly in waves as the guitar clatters. I think that the effect is supposed to be of waves of blackbirds taking off and circling. It's a nice effect to listen to, and i like the way the song ebbs and flows.
And finally we wrap things up with Last Greys, which sounds like one of those moments when The Dirty Three would get all "free jazz" and everything just seems to happen at once, sonic chaos erupting. Which is a pretty appropriate end to the record.
And it is a pretty cool record, and i enjoy it a lot. It has that minimal, mournful, Dirty Three kind of thing going on. But there is also a bit of the Chicago jazz scene in a few of the songs.
And to the promo person who wrote the release for this album -- well done. You pulled me in. Good work.