Cave and Warren Ellis
Old rock stars never die. They just get into soundtrack work.
Not that Nick Cave is in that situation at all, really. His principal career as Lucifer's favourite crooner goes from strength to strength, and not only did he supply the music for the gritty and unashamedly no-punches-pulled Aussie western The Propostion, he wrote the movie script, too. So, this album might represent a diversion, rather than some kind of future, but hey. It's Nick Cave - which means you've got to give it a listen, right?
Perhaps we should note right here that this is not entirely Nick Cave's baby. Give or take a few traditional numbers, this music was written, arranged and performed by Nick and fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis, with occasional contributions from others. It's deceptively low-key stuff: an ambient cruise through a dark, forbidding musical landscape, defined by rumbling bass drones and punctuated by the bright spots of plucked violin strings, with moments of guitar rolling past like tumbleweed (do they have tumbleweed in Australia?). Occasionally, the music resolves itself into what you might call Proper Songs - 'Down To The Valley', 'The Rider Song', 'Clean Hands, Dirty Hands' - and here the essential...well, I can only say Nick Cave-ness of the music emerges. Given more boisterous arrangements, we could be listening to songs from the next Bad Seeds album here.
Elsewhere, it's all moods and soundscapes; sometimes so brief, the music drifting past so quickly, like clouds blown along by the wind, that the mood is broken just as it's been established. In a sense, this feels like an album of fragments. Somewhere, you feel, there are longer pieces of which these are only excerpts. But it's effective. The cumulative effect works. It takes a while, but eventually, the mood descends.