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  3 Pieces for Violin  
  Warren Ellis  
  King Crab  
Release Date:
  late 2002  
Reviewed by:

Warren Ellis is one of my favorite musicians, specifically through his involvement with The Dirty Three, who are one of my favorite bands. I find their violin-driven languid pop to be perfect music for just sitting and listening.

This is Mr. Ellis's first solo work. It does not consist of dreamy violin-guitar-drums pop music. Rather, it is three somewhat avant-garde pieces for the violin. Presumably these were penned by Mr. Ellis himself, but the CD sleeve is rather short on details so i can't be sure.

At any rate, none of the three pieces has a name either. Let's examine them briefly, which is appropriate because this whole EP lasts barely 16 minutes. Which, if you know anything about The Dirty Three, is pretty brief....

The first piece starts with a long violin drone as Ellis drags the bow across the strings. It builds slowly, and it sounds like he stomps his boots in time to the music. This piece seems to be mostly rhythmic, with Ellis using his violin to create different rhythmic textures.

The second piece is a layered drone, violin lines layered over one another, some plucking, some sawing. It's a pretty cool piece, actually, and does some interesting things with layering.

The third piece is an ambient tune, Ellis playing slowly and quietly. This is actually a very nice piece. I think that is because it is basically a Dirty Three song without the drums and guitar. Either way, it's long and slow and beautiful, with drawn out notes.

I do not mean to slam Ellis here, but for the first two tracks are a little too ... avant for me. They are not bad, and in fact they are each kind of interesting. But the third track, with its mournful notes, well, that is what i listen to Mr. Ellis for.

I am all for him "experimenting" and pushing the boundary of his playing style. One of the things i like about The Dirty Three is that, even though all of their music is kind of similar, there are always variations in texture, little playful things that the band does in order to keep their music sounding fresh. I suppose that this release is part of the process that allows them to do that, so in that sense this is very good to hear. Personally, though, if i want to listen to Ellis play violin, i will reach for Ocean Songs or Whatever You Love You Are. That is to say, although 3 Pieces for Violin is generally pleasant and somewhat interesting, it's not stunning.

Related Links:

She Has No Strings Apollo, the latest by The Dirty Three


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