Nick Cave - Skeleton Tree review

Just listened to Skeleton Tree twice through – in the dark on the floor of the spare room with headphones on…. Absolutely incredible. Plays like a musical, an 8 act eulogy to Arthur really, with different protagonists and a recurring and evolving theme of disbelief, despair and ultimately a weary, shattered acceptance.
The album seems to be carelessly yet exquisitely underproduced. It is rough hewn with Cave’s grief -bruised voice exacerbating the impact of the unflinchingly personal lyrics. The hand of Warren Ellis is omnipresent with eerie notes, subliminal snarls and loops evocative and haunting . Sclavunos on drums is masterful with his lazy, quirky emphasis provoking and surprisingly exciting. Caves own musical input via his trusty piano is sparse and teasingly, seductively selective.
This is a passioned lament – a fragile brittle beauty. A journey of despair underpinned by an aching sense of abandonment. My God, my God – why has thou forsaken me? As Cave calls to the Sea and the universe; calls to his God to whom he fears he has become a ‘distant memory’, we sense a catharsis of faith. There is no ‘ special dispensation’ for the zealot despite his devotion. But Cave knows better, after all he has told us before that he doesn’t ’ believe in an interventionist God’ and in the end I think he accepts that ‘its all ok now’ and we have a glimmer that he is through the worst, albeit irrevocably damaged .
As I lay there listening, spell bound by the heaving groundswell of emotion, I became aware that the evocative imagery of Caves lyrics were also generating a distinctly visual experience. On reflection it was like sitting in front of a cinema screen, completely consumed by the story graphically unfolding in front of me . Perhaps the most striking image was that of ‘the mother’ sensing the presence of her son as she woke from a dream and ran down the hall asking desperately of the ambivalent air “are you still here?!”.
Cave writes beautifully and generously of his wife on a number of songs and it is clear that he relied heavily upon her throughout this (ongoing) ordeal. His understanding of the female and maternal perspective is Carveresque and indicative of a further development in his peerless songwriting.
Fark.

Nick Cave - Skeleton Tree review

Rex Inkpen

Joined January 2009

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