Low + Dirty Three, In the Fishtank 7 [Konkurrent]
The Amsterdam-based Konkurrent label has earned a considerable following for its inventive "In The Fishtank" series, in which organizers' favorite bands take two days to record an EP of new, experimental, and/or improvisational material. The first half-dozen installments included work by the likes of NoMeansNo, June Of 44, and a collaboration between Tortoise and The Ex, while #7 was slated to showcase the sublime Duluth slow-pop outfit Low. Low's decision to invite along its friends in the similarly gripping instrumental trio Dirty Three makes the prospect of the new disc almost too promising to be true, and In The Fishtank 7 is, by definition, a bit too loose to approach the sum of its parts. Low and Dirty Three are two notably different bands, and their styles can't help but clash at times, with the former's spare, air-filled portent diluted by the latter's more overtly emotive attack. Similarly, Dirty Three's adherence to Low's pacing and formula can't help but mute many of the colors in its emotional palette, though the result is characteristically lovely. Low dominates the proceedings--"Invitation Day" and the lovely "When I Called Upon Your Seed" could have made the cut on a conventional studio album--though the instrumental "Cody" is strictly a showcase for Dirty Three violinist Warren Ellis, and a nine-and-a-half-minute Neil Young cover ("Down By The River") grafts the groups' styles together in a way that spotlights everyone involved. Marginal by definition but periodically transcendent in execution, In The Fishtank 7 stands as a nice addition to the wonderful catalogs of both participants.