Sound — 7
Upon hearing Dirty Three for the first time, one could be forgiven for passing them off as yet another slowcore band, like Low or Rex. They are after all from the early nineties and shared a split EP with Low. However, Horse Sounds would have more in common with Dirty Three's early touring partners, Sonic Youth or Pavement. The music contrasts wall-of-sound distorted violin with slow drum beats, always feeling a quarter of a beat behind. The makeshift nature is clear from the outset, but its beauty is in its simplicity, At The Bar sounding like a cross between a funeral parade and a great release. To a certain person, the melodies and sharp bursts of noise will resonate deeply. Their songs, like 1000 Miles, tend to lack depth, a limitation of the three-piece set up.
Lyrics — 8
The whole album is instrumental, lead by the classically trained Warren Ellis on violin. The playing style is very varied, within Sue's Last Ride repetitive trance-like melodies are repeated, punctuated by pizzicato scales. A vocalist would have no doubt added to the music, but there is no denying Ellis' mastery of the violin, which conveys the mood, which develops from song to song. The album progresses from the quiet 1000 miles at the beginning to the loud and distorted Red or I Remember A Time When Once You Used To Love me, and finally finishes, somewhat disappointingly on the mellow I Knew It Would Come To This.
Overall Impression — 8
It is difficult to compare Horse Stories, seeing as there are no immediately similar artists. Against the likes of Low, they seem to encompass more moods, but lack the haunting vocal harmonies that make Low stand out from the rest of the slowcore crowd. Compared to Pavement, Dirty Three are missing the excitement factor, but are perhaps more musically interesting. All three instruments are distinct throughout the album, which improves with each listen. This is an album that deserves to be actively listened to.