Low + Dirty Three, In the Fishtank [Konkurrent / Touch and Go]
The Dutch label Konkurrent began its In The Fishtank series with the idea that it would force (nicely, of course) bands into doing something different than they normally would, giving strict rules with the hope of freeing them musically. The participating bands (which have included Tortoise, June Of 44, and more) are given two days in a Holland studio to record 20-30 minutes worth of music.
When Low was invited, they decided to collaborate with Australian instrumentalists Dirty Three, a pairing that seemed to make perfect sense: The bands were friends, and there wouldn't be a lot of instrumental overlap, considering how spare both bands' records are to begin with. The result is just what you might expect: Slightly unpolished jewels that capture the lazy energy of two terrifically talented trios.
Naturally, with Low's Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker doing all the singing, it sounds more like a Low side-project than a Dirty Three one, but D3 deserve credit for taking Low places they may otherwise never have gone: "When I Called Upon Your Seed" finds Parker singing with a bit of heretofore unheard twang and Sparhawk answers right back with the unexpected "Lordy," a bluesy southern dirge. The instrumental "Cody" sounds like the Southwestern US - odd considering that its players are from Duluth and Australia.
But the record's most otherworldly moment is an elegiac version of Neil Young's "Down By The River," - Young sounded kinda happy that he shot his baby, Mimi Parker sounds a bit more bummed. Low & Dirty Three match the original's nine-minute length, although they append the jam session (although you can't really call it that in their case) to the beginning of the song rather than the end. It's an odd cover choice made normal in this context, a fitting centerpiece to a compelling collaboration.
- Josh Modell