Album Review | Glitterbeat | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5
Tim Winton’s poetic seminal book Dirt Music deals with struggles against a hostile environment, loneliness and the power of nature. Music and the lure of music is central to the story. Dirt Music we are told, is “Anything you could play on a verandah. You know, without electricity”. Dirt Music the band is frontier music, songs and sounds from the wilderness or the desert. Chris Eckman from the wonderful American band Walkabouts (themselves named from Nichola Roeg’s film about the human cost of being lost in the outback), Chris Brokaw one time member of The Willard Grant Conspiracy and Codeine and Hugo Race formed Dirtmusic in 2007 to explore common roots in urban folk blues. These roots were enriched by performing at the 2008 Festival in the Desert, working with Malian desert blues band Tamikrest and recording in the famous Bogalan studios in Bamako Mali. As a duo of Eckman and Race the immersion in Malian music got deeper Troubles (2013) and Lion Music (2014) represented a collaboration at both the writing and performing stages, offering a sharing of music that is unique. For Bu Bir Ruya, Dirt Music’s fifth album takes the gritty trance electric Desert Music north to Istanbul, drawing in Murat Ertel and Umit Adakale. The link to verandah music or sounds from the wilderness is still there, but its shifting and evolving, growing from improvisation it is shaped by circumstances, the moments, the musicians and the space. “Bi Di Sen Soyle” is a stunning opener, the hypnotic Electric Saz snarls and spits, guitars shimmer over layers of percussion and beats build a huge brooding desert space. The vocals are sublime, sounding like Gil Scott Heron or God Speed My Black Emperor, grainy recordings sent back from some blasted post-apocalyptic future. The music is shamanistic and trance like, you could lose yourself in the groove you could just listen and get lost in the listening. “The Border Crossing” is funky electronica with the soupy percussive slither of the best of The Neville Brothers, enthused with the shimmer of Dr John’s Gris Gris. A potent, ambiguous lyric tells us the world is getter smaller. We are all travellers armchair or otherwise, but we also all involved, touched by conflict and refugees, we can no longer be, just out of range. “Go the Distance” is another beautiful Electric Saz and Guitar duet, waves of sound, a slow building anthem to taking the long route, a kind of hymn to Paris Texas’ Travis. “Love is a Foreign Country” is built round a vocal from Gaye Su Akyol that is just captivating in its intimacy and sheer power. This is as seductive and enveloping as a cool courtyard or oasis after the desert burn. “Safety in Numbers” is another thought provoking song, a swirling hymn. Brennan MacCrimmon’s vocal tells a powerful story. The album closer and title track features Gorkem Sen’s Yabahar a huge room filling acoustic instrument that makes the atmospheric sound, part wind in the wires, part end of the world that runs through the track. An unnerving unworldly counterpoint to the passionate vocal. This is hypnotic and thrilling album from a shifting and changing band, sometimes hypnotic it infolds you, sometimes it is as sharp and hard edged as the wind from the desert. Hey mister don’t you know the world is getting smaller, sometimes this is a cause of shame and conflict, sometimes this is a force for good. Dirt Music a sharing and meeting of music from different continents represents the good that comes from a small world. The light of discovery as bright as a desert sun, reveals much that was previously hidden.