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Dirty Three – Love Changes Everything
Drag City

It is impossible for the members of Dirty Three to remain untouched by their various pursuits of the past decade. 

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Drummer Jim White now makes avant-rock/jazz/folk with Greek singer George Xylouris and powerful experiments with guitarist Marisa Anderson (with whom he also backed Quebecois singer Myriam Gendron on her masterful new album, Mayday). Guitarist Mick Turner, who keeps the lowest profile of the three, crafts dreamy music with Helen Franzmann under the moniker Mess Esque. And violinist Warren Ellis has spent this century as Nick Cave’s primary collaborator.

Love Changes Everything is Dirty Three’s first album since 2012’s Toward the Low Sun. Recorded in just five days in Melbourne, it is also the biggest departure from the frenetic, controlled chaos of their past records. Ellis claims the new project finds the trio “older and meaner, sadder and totally dangerous,” but this declaration feels like a feint. Instead, Love Changes Everything showcases Dirty Three at their most ambient, textured, and untethered. 

Divided into six tracks, “Love Changes Everything I-VI,” the album begins at its most furious, with Turner’s guitar and Ellis’ violin battling over a heavy drone secured by White’s earthy drumming. Though this track does not match the Sturm und Drang of previous Dirty Three albums like Horse Stories, it surprises less than what comes later. On the second section, Ellis ditches his violin for piano while ghostly atmospherics hint heavily at his recent work with Cave. The fourth track treads closest to Ocean Songs-era Dirty Three in its delicate beauty. And on the final 10-minute piece, Ellis sounds like he is playing a violin loop from the bottom of a well while White and Turner do a finely controlled dance around it. 

For fans expecting Dirty Three to pick up safely where they left off in 2012, Love Changes Everything will likely shock. Rather than slide back into comfortable routine, the trio have distilled their past 12 years of sonic travels into something exciting and new. – GRADE: B

You can preview Love Changes Everything on Bandcamp and elsewhere.

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