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Album Review

On his third full-length solo offering — plus a handful of EPs in collaboration with other artists — Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner has steeped himself more in the pool of labyrinthine musical mystery than ever before. Moth is a single piece divided into 19 sections. Turner plays all the instruments with the exception of piano — courtesy of Michael Krassner — and organ on one cut. That said, besides guitars and textures, there aren't that many more instruments. There are wispy layers of guitars backing crystalline minimal flourishes of one or two in the forefront, which come across as gorgeously melodic, almost songlike lines, though in truth they are phrases that surround a ghost melody, one that isn't actually there. Moth feels more like Tren Phantasma, though it's more fully realized. The harmonic ideas Turner put forth there, which gave way to the whispering textures of Marlan Rosa, are everywhere in evidence here. The music is poetic, spare, nearly ethereal, but there's so much emotion present in these soft sections that they are rooted in the four elements. If anything, Moth is an album that reflects the beguiling nature of the night; it twinkles like stars and washes out like a midnight sky. It suspends time and floats through it. It conjures images that are fleeting because they exist only in the heart of the listener. The Dirty Three have moved toward more contemplative material in recent years, and its clear to see Turner's influence in that change of direction. But Moth is even more so; it sounds like no other recording out there — other than a Mick Turner album — and offers the listener the opportunity to find in its absolute tenderness and empathy a place for wonder, for tears, for quiet joy, for opening. While the pervasive sea imagery that has persisted on albums by Turner and the Three is not overly dictated here, its presence is everywhere evident in the softly undulating eddies and pools of sound that reach into the ocean of silence and create ripples in its surface, but come up from its depths.


Born: 1960 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner began a solo career in 1997 with the release of Tren Phantasma, a collection of improvised four-track recordings featuring the contemplative guitar style he used with his group the Dirty Three. The following year, Turner and his bandmate Jim White played live as the Tren Brothers, carrying the album's aesthetic into a concert setting with an arsenal of loop pedals and understated percussion. Several of these dates were opening spots for Cat Power, with whom the duo...
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Moth, Mick Turner
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