Mick Turner - Marlan Rosa & Moth

With Marlan Rosa, Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner outdoes himself, offering up a gorgeous, heart-rending instrumental album more fully realized than his first solo recording, Tren Phantasma. There are multiple tracks of guitar and effects, providing layers of beautiful melodies and shape-shifting, atmospheric effects, with twangy string soloing over it all. Turner is joined by violinist Jessica Billey on a few songs, including "El Arbol," and loosely accompanies himself with various percussion -- cymbals, tambourine, tapping, and drum kit sounds -- as well as organ on a few others, such as "Marlan II" and "Rosa II." He also adds processed harmonica tones to the fore and background of "Marlan IV." Much of the album's mood and style comes across as gently random, like windchime action, and in the same spirit as the music of the Dirty Three, although more peaceful. It's all nighttime and muddy jewels, cherished nostalgia and regrets, and a sincerely vulnurable yet beautiful realization of all of these.

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 labyrinthine pool of shimmering 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.

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Heavy River said...