Dirty Three – Cinder (Anchor & Hope)


Dirty Three have made a real effort to be more concise on Cinder, their 7th album. The tracks are shorter, more to the point, but even so they still find the space to roam free and get lost for a little while. Recorded by Tortoise sound-man Casey Rice in Melbourne’ plush Sing Sing studios, Cinder was approached quite differently by the band. As Warren Ellis says, “Our approach this time was to load the car up with as many instruments as possible and then give each song what it needed.”

Without worrying about how the new tracks could ever be played live (always a consideration previously), the result is more layers and sonic depth in this record than ever before. And it’s great that the layer of studio pseudo-realism has been lifted. Cinder boasts violin, drums, guitar, bass, viola, mandolin, bouzouki, organ, piano, acoustic guitar, bagpipes and, for the first time on a Dirty Three album, vocals. Sally Timms (The Mekons) and Chan Marshall (Cat Power) deliver the goods.

On Cinder, earthy strings abound. Mick Turner’ warm strums caress, plucky melodies from Warren Ellis slice through, and the loose and circular sound of Jim White’ kit fills the room. And then there’ Warren’ fiddle. Check out the violin’ entrance in track two, “She Passed Through’. Like a ghost of a woman it rises from nowhere on an organ bed and literally passes through the song, lifting it up to the heavens.

Dan Joyce