Presents the record company this Carnage as “Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s first studio album working together outside of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.” But that statement is only relatively true. Actually, they have signed a dozen soundtracks since 2005.
But yes, this is the first time they have signed an album composed exclusively of songs together. Eight songs that, according to Ellis in a text sent by the record company, came off the hook: “It was an accelerated process of intense creativity. All eight songs came out in one form or another for the first two and a half days and then it was, ‘Let’s make a record!’ There was nothing too premeditated about it. ” “It just fell from the sky, it’s a gift,” adds Cave in the same text.
Everything was born with confinement. With Cave compulsively writing in his home office. Later he met with Ellis and the music emerged improvising on those texts. Something similar to what they did with their previous album with The Bad Seeds, Ghosteen (2019), except that here the result is totally different.
Listening Carnage One wonders what he has more in common with, the film work with Ellis or recent The Bad Seeds albums. The answer: neither of them. It would be necessary to go back far, beyond Skeleton Tree (2016), perhaps even Push the Sky Away (2013), the first album by The Bad Seeds in which Mick Harvey, the last original member who held out, apart from Cave himself, did not participate.
It was on that record that Ellis, who joined the band in 1993 as a violinist, served as the leader’s right hand for the first time. Cave has always needed a helper at his side. A position that the late Roland S. Howard, Mick Harvey and Blixa Bargeld have occupied and that always ended in a huge fight and abandonment or expulsion, but in which Ellis seems to move with ease.
Carnage, which is published this Friday in digital version and on May 28 in physical format, goes through all the usual records of the Australian singer. Mislead the start with Hand of God, in which electronic bases sound with which at times they seem to be playing Radiohead. But, from there, the rest is familiar. There are electric litanies, songs performed only with the piano, Leonard Cohen ballads (an increasingly clear reference in Cave), dark lullabies, gospel choirs …
The letters, tending to the abstract, are full of trees, flowers, rivers, mountains and roads. There are expressions that are repeated in various themes. Of course love, that force to which Cave, who has softened over the years (he is already 63), grants a liberating power, but also an unattainable “kingdom in the sky”, a kingdom in the sky that he seems to direct your prayers. And God, of course. That distant God who enjoys watching his creatures suffer. And Cave, who lost a 15-year-old son in 2015 by falling off a cliff, has suffered greatly.
It is a disc of confinement. “I am the man from the balcony. / I am two hundred pounds of packed ice sitting on a chair in the morning sun. / Putting on my tap shoes in the morning sun, ”he sings in Balcony Man, the theme that closes the album. You can almost feel Cave writing alone, thinking as he paces his office, speaking aloud, watching the news on television. It seems another of those projects in which 2020 has occupied determined that time passes faster after being forced to suspend his tour, the way in which many musicians flee from their ghosts.
Less polished than his usual works, more improvised, with a more homely sound and therefore closer, Carnage is another personal album by a musician who always had a theatrical touch, but which seems to be opening up on the channel lately. “I am traveling terribly alone. / By a singular path. / For the lavender fields reaching high, beyond the sky. / People ask me how I have changed. / I say that it is a singular path ”, he sings in Lavender Fields. That ambiguous “singular path”, which can mean many different things, is the best description of a mature Nick Cave who continues to deliver great records to us.