Ready to burst

However much I love Bill Frisell, there are times I wish his music weren’t so translucent. Lush and rustic though his writing may be, there’s always a sense that a truck could be driven through the spaces between his ringing notes.

Fanzine and alt-rock publications far and wide have gone to great lengths attaching adjectives to the music of Dirty Three, lots of ink and column inches devoted to coming up with synonyms for the word “haunting”.

And despite a personal wish not to be a lemming, this review cannot do otherwise. But at least I’ll be nerd enough to say Dirty Three provides me with the whatever it is I’ve been looking for in Bill Frisell.

And that is this: introspection that threatens to explode.

Let me disclaim right away She Has No Strings Apollo is the second album by Dirty Three to which I’ve listened — a co-worker handed me a copy of Whatever You Love You Are in the office years ago and instructed me to listen to it right then and there. I did, that once, liked it, but didn’t feel compelled to get my own copy.

From what I remember of that initial exposure, She Has No Strings Apollo pretty much has the same elements as Whatever You Love You Are — a melancholy violin, a haunting guitar and a restrained drummer.

Dirty Three’s songs may stretch to six or eight minutes long, but the way the trio builds to a climax doesn’t seem long-winded — they need that length of time to arrive at where they’re going.

This time around, Dirty Three has fleshed out its sound. “Long Way to Go With No Punch” is propelled not by a violin but by a piano. And that’s a second violin part on “No Stranger Than That”, isn’t it?

Violinist Warren Ellis makes his instrument sing. That is to say it would be tough to find a singer who could draw out the kind of emotion from an instrument the way Ellis does his.

And while Ellis, guitarist Mick Turner and drummer Jim White may not be jazz improvisers in the most conversative sense, there’s definitely a dynamic between all three players to match the fire of a be-bop set.

She Has No Strings Apollo is a nice starting point to discover Dirty Three. Here’s instrumental rock as basic as it is expressive.