Like a weathered Gypsy, Warren Ellis -- madcap violinist and frontman of Australia's Dirty Three (when he's not moonlighting in Nick Cave's Bad Seeds) -- weaves sad, lonesome melodies of heartache, loss, and loneliness with the instrumental assurance of a Hendrix or Tom Verlaine. On their sixth studio album, Ellis and his mates, drummer Jim White and guitarist Mick Turner, augment their instrumental rock arrangements with a tinkling of piano ("Long Way to Go with No Punch"), additional percussion, and some bass, but the thrust of these songs remains consistent with their past decade of work: film noir soundtracks to life's most tragic letdowns. Typical is the seven-minute "No Stranger than That," which begins with a spare backdrop -- plodding brushed drums and deliberate guitar strums -- for Ellis's dual, moaning melody lines, until halfway through, when White and Turner kick up their heels to chase their leader down a winding path, arriving at song's end breathless and spent. Touchstones do exist -- the Velvet Underground's stirring "Venus in Furs," for example -- but the Dirty Three's bleary-eyed ballads are a category unto themselves, and a delight to any jaded ears.
|Label:||Touch & Go Records|