Ocean Songs

A CD copy of the 1998 album 'Ocean Songs' by the Dirty Three.

It has happened disconcertingly often that my belated discovery of an artist’s music has, by a matter of days or weeks, preceded their demise. A happier kind of coincidence, regrettably less frequent, is where an overdue appreciation of a musician or band unknowingly anticipates a release of new material from them. My recent acquisition of Ocean Songs (1998) by the Dirty Three is an example of the latter scenario. I bought it two weeks or so before the announcement of the release of the trio’s first album in twelve years, Love Changes Everything, which is due out in June.

I first heard of the band about twenty years ago, but beyond making a mental note to the effect of “Dirty Three: well-regarded Australian instrumental trio”, their music, like so very many things, passed me by. The catalyst for my eventually listening to them came in the form of a song by a compatriot of theirs, Jen Cloher. On her eponymous 2017 album there was a track in tribute to the Three called ‘Loose Magic’. It’s a song I always enjoyed, and every few times I heard it I’d think that I ought to check out what moved Cloher to write it.

A mere six years or so later, and I got around to doing just that, thoroughly enjoying their ‘Tiny Desk Concert’ courtesy of YouTube. An ebay order for a secondhand CD copy of Ocean Songs followed soon afterwards. I gather it’s a calmer and less frenetic record than their earlier ones. Most of the track titles, like that of the album as a whole, suggest maritime environs: ‘The Restless Waves’, for example, and the appropriately-named ‘Deep Waters’ – a very absorbing and atmospheric sixteen and a half minutes of music. Having now heard a first track from their forthcoming record, I’ll be eager to check out the whole thing!