It's not so unusual to find violin or other related classical instruments in rock music today, but most bands use them merely to enhance their sound rather than as the focal point. Warren Ellis is definitely a leader as he guides the beautiful, stark melodies on his violins (there are quite a few overdubs) through the loose, free playing of guitarist Mick Turner and drummer Jim White. Ocean Songs is much more subtle than their previous records. Instead of relying on structure with intense dynamics, the focus is more on improvising with space and mood. In this regard, their approach actually leans more toward jazz than rock. Ocean Songs was recorded by Steve Albini at his new adobe laden studio Electric Audio. After discovering the perfect placements with the perfect microphones, Albini lets the acoustics of his ideally designed rooms reflect the music honestly to tape. The result is some of the most pure, full sounding recordings I've ever heard. Tren Brothers EP which was released a few months earlier consists solely of Turner and White. Their basic approach is similar to that of Dirty Three, but the subtleties are even more enhanced without the violin. Turner does overdub some melodica and harmonica to fill things out but the beauty still lies within the vague, unadorned guitar melodies. His heartfelt, simplistic playing along with White's haphazard, eccentric percussion makes for a nice EP (a full length might be too long). It was also recorded at Electric Audio, this time by Greg Norman but the recording sure sounds a lot like Ocean Songs. (Touch and Go, PO Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625/Drag City Recs., PO Box 476867, Chicago, IL  60647)

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