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Dirty Three

Since their formation in a Melbourne, Australia bar on the wrong side of the tracks, the Dirty Three have been exploring the extent to which an all-instrumental three-piece can summon up emotions and awaken long-dormant passions. The group got started in 1993 when classically trained violinist Warren Ellis, who had been performing music at plays and art openings, tapped two fellow Blackeyed Susans alums, guitarist Mick Turner and drummer Jim White, to start a band.

There are some clear influences at work here, most obviously John Cale, but nothing else sounds quite like the Dirty Three. Initially the music was turbulent and frenetic; it was the sound of violent disturbances of the earth and intense emotional upheaval. During the band's early years, Ellis kept a guitar pickup duct-taped to his violin, giving it a gritty, distorted sound that sounded little like a violin but helped give the music its uniquely raw, wounded passion.

1998's Ocean Songs and 2000's Whatever You Love, You Are, which contains the featured "I Really Should've Gone Out Last Night," have seen the Dirty Three take a more introspective, slow-burning tack. Turner's wistful, understated guitars and White's soft percussion provide the canvas for the drama of Ellis's violin, which dips and rises like a kite flown in front of a smoldering sunset. These songs tell stories of the weariness of the traveler at the end of the road and the bittersweet sensation of looking back over the journey. Theirs is the sound of inexplicable 4 a.m. yearnings, long-forgotten wish lists, and half-remembered dreams.