Dirt – Bloom: Album Review

Dirt is essential to well-being. For your health, roll around in it and consume it. An exploration of soundscapes which bleeds out of and into all manner of Pop Art. Feet planted in the magnificent Sixties and heart soaring out from there.

The Dirt are Nick Sampson and Malcolm Black, both founded Netherworld Dancing Toys. Black passed away in 2019. Barry Blackler is a roving drummer who has a long and meandering musical history, touching the likes of Dragon and Dance Exponents, to reaching the heights of the drummer’s chair for Jesus and Mary Chain in the early Nineties.

DirtThe location in time and space is the famed West Coast beaches of Auckland. The Piha Garage sound. There is a primordial sense of regeneration there. It is wild and elemental. Many flocked there in the recent weeks to receive some healing solace in the face of a prolonged quarantine. Dirt have been expanding their musical soul whilst taking in the roller-coaster of living. Strife, It’s a family affair, murder, grieving, light and joy. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Perfectly expressed in Dreams and Happiness. Take the Spectorian Folk-Rock of the early Byrds. Slow down the tempo and add the cavernous drums and echo of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Graft in elements of Sixties Psychedelic Pop. Some of the sound effects gadgetry of Strawberry Fields Forever and I am the Walrus. Electronic tuba and brass.

Get a dose of sunlight/ Let the good times fly/ When she was so in doubt/ All I ever needed was some time to work it all out/ Dreams and happiness.

Slow rolling waves breaking on a crash of cymbals. Vocals in unison, smooth and free of affect.

They double down on this with Better Think Twice. The drums are slow thunder with the added ring of tambourines. Deeper into Mary Jesus. The sound is full of space and seems to radiate out into the broad expanse of ocean. A languid pace until the guitars kick in halfway with some dreamy Psychedelic Rock. A soulful blue-eyed voice, reminiscent of Steve Marriott and the original Small Faces, the likes of All or Nothing.

Danger. Look for danger in the deep blue sea. Life is pain and strife. And wife, according to Cockney rhyming slang. The guitars throughout the album build on fuzz-tone Surf elements and edgy jangle. As pioneered by Davie Allan and Arrow. More a drone sound than Link Wray.

Now the smooth Pop is mixed with unsettling idiosyncratic gestures which wander down the path of Big Star. Edgy and compulsive.

A Horse with No Name is a triumph. The tiresome megahit from America which Randy Newman nailed as about a kid who thinks he’s taken some acid. They eviscerate all that in one long boning knife swoop. Now draped in a canvas of unease and dread. Voice kept to a monotone chant. An Electronica Drone and Trance shuffle. Metronomic tempo of Noiseniks Suicide. There are bits of Surf and Sixties Garage Rock. Guitars eventually come in and lay out repeated riffs with a little Jazz. Would fit right into the Door’s L.A. Woman album at the conclusion.

That song centres the album and the slightly demented feverishness of Big Star hangs over the rest of the songs.

Just is a ghost story and a curse on childhood with a similar disembodiment to that of Strawberry Fields. It’s hard to find your childhood self. Theatrical Pop and when the clouds lift the guitars mesh and rock out to lift the spell.

Lightning Says is led by the rhythm section. Hand drums, possibly congas, lend a little Latin beat.

Car Crash is a death song, signaled by the drums inside a deep well. Big flash Harry, he knew the score/ A road to nowhere/ He was on a roll. The guitars well up like liquid mercury. Wanders in the Pop Bardo.

Waitara has Annie Crummer. It seems a nice gesture as her vocal is only picked up on the outro. A fluid bending bass leads. Wah-wah electric guitar harmonises with an acoustic. A dark little tale. There was nothing bad about this small town.

No Sense at All rides out like a Motorpsycho nightmare. Rhythm machine and buzzing guitars. The Sixties Garage of ? And the Mysterians.

Bloom is a surprising triumph and may sneak away as a sleeper close to the end of the year. Immediately accessible as the sound is so familiar and uplifting in the way the best of the Sixties were. And then it becomes obsessive and compulsive in the way that Dreams and Happiness can be.

Rev Orange Peel

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