With all the personal side-projects - most of them musical but some also cinematic - the members of Dirty Three have been involved in over the past couple of years, we almost forgot they haven't released anything in more than five years. We hadn't heard from them since 2005, when they put out “Cinder”. After all this time, we get the impression that the band is no longer the most important thing in their lives, and that recording a new album isn't a top priority. Warren Ellis has established himself as Nick Cave's right-hand man, either in Grinderman or in Bad Seeds, as well as his co-writer of inspired film scores; Jim White has maintained his status as an impeccable studio and live musician, for example on tour with Cat Power or Bonnie Prince Billy; and Mick Turner, though not as prolific, hasn't been wasting his time, either.
So, “Toward The Low Sun” is an album on which the three meet again without pressure, working in total freedom and with a clear idea. They let themselves go with the flow, with a notable change in direction from “Cinder”, which took many by surprise with its sound: the inclusion of vocal parts, the shortness of its songs and some influences that hadn't been there before. However this new album, as if they wanted to escape all of the above, recovers the instrumental format. It is as experimental as always, with longer and more developed compositions, more in the vein of their early recordings. Some tracks sound jazzy, like “Furnace Skies” and “Sometimes I’ve Forget You Come”, and the band transmit a pleasant feeling of loosely directed improvisation.
The impressive and explosive “That Was Was” is the exception on an album that sounds low-key and relaxed, cooked on a slowly burning fire. Take “Ashen Snow” and “Rain Song”, for instance; they start out as ‘ballads’ (to give it a name), and turn out to be the lightest and most accessible tracks of them all. The rest is more or less predictable: progressive mid-tempos, always on the verge of exploding without actually doing so, keeping the climax at bay, integrating elements from folk, free-jazz, Klezmer and rock, on another solid and well-shaped album. Maybe you can hear the Australians aren't playing together all the time anymore, what with all of them living in different countries and hardly ever being together in the same place, but they don't let it influence their still seductive sound too much.