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Alternative & Indie - Released November 20, 2020 | Bad Seed Ltd

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
The time of Nick Cave the rock’n’roll radical is long gone. Once an erratic punk showman possessed by the ghosts of old greats like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf and others… Time has very much smoothed down those edges, the Australian now dips his quill in a very different ink following the death of his son at the age of 15. With Skeleton Tree (2016) and Ghosteen (2019), the Bad Seeds frontman’s art transformed into a mystical outlet. Creation in grief, for grief. It is often through grief that stories of humanity are told and these albums provide a crushing reminder of this fact. Released in Autumn 2020, Idiot Prayer is solemn in form but not substance. Voluntarily yes, but mostly due to the 2020 pandemic. Nick Cave is thus alone here, without his Bad Seeds or anyone else for that matter. Just him and a piano in Alexandra Palace, London. The performance was transmitted live online on the 23rd of July 2020. For this unique performance, the setlist goes beyond his last two albums (from which he plays only three songs) and sees Cave trawl through old Bad Seeds records (Stranger Than Kindness, The Ship Song, Black Hair, (Are You) the One That I’ve Been Waiting For, The Mercy Seat…) and his other group, Grinderman (Man in the Moon, Palaces of Montezuma…). Only one new composition is included, Euthanasia, a melancholic hymn and study of loss…His magnificent voice resonates within this grandiose 19th century Victorian palace enveloping the author in words of flesh and blood, surrealist and candid poetry. Nick Cave resembles here Robert Mitchum’s character in The Night of the Hunter who tattoos the words LOVE and HATE onto each of his hands and makes them fight each other. Through mixing love songs, murder ballads and tortured hymns, the Australian crooner offers a most beautiful treasure trove, a guided tour of his oeuvre. And such limited instrumentals bring out the best in his voice (he has rarely sung so well) strengthening his old songs tenfold. Marvellous. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 25, 2021 | Goliath Enterprises Limited

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
With Skeleton Tree (2016) and Ghosteen (2019), Nick Cave signed a double lease on Heaven and Hell. Carnage finds the leader of the Bad Seeds still holding down both joints, far from average men, closer to some unknown divinity. The album does not bear the name of his illustrious band, but of his double, his musical director for eons: Warren Ellis. With Carnage, the two Australians keep one foot in the latest mystical and electronic work of the Bad Seeds, while looking resolutely straight ahead. A few weeks before its release, Cave described Carnage as “a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe” – the pandemic, of course… The sprechgesang he loves is still here, accentuating the power of his sermons. Meanwhile, mad-scientist Ellis invariably finds the appropriate sound – strings, vintage synths, drunken piano, UFO noises, anything goes – to push these irrational and poetic texts to a holistic artistic elsewhere.In the grandiose White Elephant, the fascinating approach pays off with a choral worthy of Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance.  In Balcony Man, Cave and Ellis move into almost experimental terrain before taking the opposite direction with an offbeat piano/violin duet. In fact, throughout Carnage the duo enjoy fitting together differing ambiences, interweaving styles, even if that means imploding the traditional framework of the song. Brutal and yes, very beautiful, it is no easy feat to enter this parallel universe unlike any other. Planet Rock may be teeming with species, but Nick Cave remains his own unique animal, ceaselessly questioning his artistic convictions. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Pop - Released February 16, 2015 | Mute, a BMG Company

Given their output, it’s certainly tempting to write about the shared aesthetic philosophy of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis as film composers, but that's actually beside the point. In fact, what’s most remarkable about White Lunar, the double-disc collaborative retrospective compilation from film scores by the pair, is how utterly “small” and atmospheric the work is, especially considering that three of these films cover very large visual landscapes. Two are Westerns: The Proposition -- which Cave also wrote the screenplay for and set in the Australian Outback -- and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The third of these large-landscape movies is The Road, based on the post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy. Disc one is comprised of the selections from the scores of these films, while disc two contains music from The Girls of Phnom Penh and The English Surgeon, as well as assorted unissued tracks from the duo's vaults. Each disc is compiled to stand on its own. Disc one does so in a way that is quietly spooky and powerful despite the minimal approach of the few instruments employed: violin, piano, bass, guitars, some atmospheric keyboards, etc. Whether one has seen the films orchestrated here hardly matters. The aural impressions are of loneliness, solitude, vast stretches of emptiness, and physical as well as emotional desolation. There are a couple of vocal tracks on disc one, mainly the traditional “Happy Land,” which was totally rearranged -- as all good folks songs should be -- by Cave, and “The Rider 2,” which is vastly different from its instrumental counterpart that's here. This disc alone is worth the purchase price; it stands as a testament to a working method that is based on instinct and careful attention paid to interior space as well as microscopic details in composition and mixing. Disc two is bookended with cues from The Girls of Phnom Penh. The approach here is even more minimal and a shade more dissonant. The use of keyboards is a bit more prevalent but not in an intrusive way. It feels both emotionally distraught and physically foreboding despite the quiet nature of the score. Tracks from the vaults and The English Surgeon are alternated in between, a few from each, then repeated before the disc ends. The vault tunes are little more than bits of ideas, articulated enough so that something else might be built upon them. The music from The English Surgeon, if not more lush, is more melodic and emotionally resonant of melancholy, dread, and even tenderness. Ultimately, this is a fascinating, provocative, and thoroughly enjoyable document on its own, though one would be well advised to pick up the individual scores for the films on disc one as well. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released October 22, 2007 | Mute, a BMG Company

Very few people actually got to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, directed by Australian director Andrew Dominik and based on Ron Hansen's brilliant novel. It's an interesting thing, really: it starred Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck (and the latter got all kinds of accolades from critics, some of whom predicting an Oscar for him in the role of Robert Ford). American audiences are weird that way: they'll spend three or four hours to see a film not supported by a strong narrative, but pass on something that involves the story at every turn and in every shot, whether it's the landscape, the weather, or the actual characters moving through it. Nick Cave is no stranger to writing cinematic scores; this is his fourth, and his second with Bad Seed and Grinderman bandmate Warren Ellis. Their last effort was the soundtrack to an actual Australian western, the brutal yet wonderful Proposition; the screenplay was actually written by Cave. It was a wide-ranging soundtrack, going from strange, eerie, spacious moments to those of great drama and tension. It featured some fearsome musical excess as well as skeletal contemplative ones. The music here is drenched in as much dread, shadow, and darkness as its predecessor, but it's a much more narrative and sophisticated undertaking. The theme, "Rather Lovely Thing," circles its way through the film and enters and exits with regularity, anchoring the viewer, and here, of course, the listener, though it's less apparent. Other cues are beautifully and simply named: "Movin' On," "What Must Be Done," "Last Ride Back to KC," "Destined for Great Things," and the rest. The use of violin, electric guitars, piano, a second violin, viola, bass, some drums and percussion, celeste, cello, and other sundry items are employed very specifically -- check the use of all the strings (though not a string orchestra or string section; this isn't a Danny Elfman score) in "The Money Train," where foreboding, loss, drama, and tension all vie for attention, and the notion of a climactic consequence is firmly in the mind of the listener. It is answered by a lone piano, miked very closely, almost from the inside, as strings answer underscoring the conclusion of what must be done to get rid of James. The determinate nature of the music is not in any way steely; it's almost sad, as if these men know that a genuine archetype, a folk hero, needs to go die in order for America itself to become a tamer, more ordered place, a place where emotions have no place in structure, and something like steely determination is a more calculated and cold undertaking. The way Ellis and Gerard McCain order their stringed instruments is almost painterly. The sense of history is at play in the emotional content of the music rather than around it. Just before the score ends, there is one of the most evocative tracks, simple and effective, called "Counting the Stars." Miked so closely the listener can hear the pianist's feet on the pedals, it lasts only a minute-and-twenty seconds, but in it one can feel what has transpired, what cannot be undone, and how it was done. The music doesn't serve to do anything but look out at a new sonic terrain that reflects the character of the land itself; it is at once more alien and more ghostly and more suspect in spite of its tenderness, because it makes room for and tolerates just such a melody. This is Cave's most extraordinary achievement as a composer of film music thus far. It's all come together here between him and Ellis, two very natural collaborators. This music is certainly cinematic, but despite its vast reach, it is constructed with relative simplicity and an almost taut sparseness that makes it stand as a work on its own. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released August 4, 2017 | Lakeshore Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released August 1, 2013 | Mute, a BMG Company

Previous film scores by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have been filled with a sense of atmospheric desolation that assumes tension, foreboding, dread, and ultimately violence, and preface the notion of the story on the screen. That said, their score for John Hillcoat's The Road -- adapted from Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel of a father and son's journey across the barren landscape of what is left of America -- is a shift away from that technique. The 17 cues here are filled with very slight, spare, even skeletal pieces for violin and piano, with a few brief blazing moments of dissonant percussion-driven noise that point to the unfolding terror in the narrative. These are courtesy of an orchestral string section and added percussion, such as on the freakish “The Cannibals.” These moments are few and far between, however. On “Memory,” the orchestra leads the way, evoking something nearly pastoral, but burdened by so much sadness that it is actually an elegy. The longest piece here is “The Journey”; it contains traces of the film’s musical theme, adorned with percussion and strings, and conjures some atmospheric dread and inherent disaster -- and recalls some of the pair's other work -- but even here it feels like a minor-key interlude with sonic effects designed to add tension and a mournful tinge. “The Cellar” is the most arrestingly dissonant piece with its aggression and dynamic explosiveness, but it's a brief cue of less than a minute and a half. Most of what’s here is simply quiet and dignified, and serves the cinematic narrative as a bridge between father and son, who experience the many things they encounter through different eyes. As music, however, without that visual context, it’s so minimal that it feels like a series of pieces that never quite resolve. Ultimately, when heard apart from its cinematic counterpart, it is the least memorable of the scores Cave and Ellis have recorded together, but is a pleasant, if not riveting, listening experience. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 29, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 6, 2006 | Mute, a BMG Company

There are other examples of films where the screenplay and the soundtrack are the products of one creator, starting with Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times and City Lights, but it's relatively rare for the writer of a film to compose the score. When that is the case, as with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, who wrote the music for the Australian western The Proposition (2005), for which Cave wrote the screenplay, the result is a high degree of dramatic and musical unity. Both the film and the score are lean, dirty, dark, and evocative. For the most part, the soundtrack foregoes the use of the human voice, with dabs of acoustic guitar, piano, violin, and percussion barely filling the spare textures. Though little of this music could stand alone, except for the final track, it is tremendously effective in context, adding layers of emotional and psychological meaning to the action of the movie. On the strength of this collaboration, Cave and Ellis (both previously better known for their work in the band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), were hired to write the music for the 2007 American western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. While their music for that film is likewise effective, the aesthetic unity of the score and film they created together is truly amazing. © TiVo
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Rock - Released March 29, 2010 | Mute, a BMG Company

Few split EPs have the feel of a group effort, but this collaboration between Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan (with Cave's Bad Seeds serving as the backing band) is a wonderful effort that effortlessly combines the talents of both artists. On the title track, Cave's sad croon and MacGowan's slurred moan bring a lazy, comforting touch to the Louis Armstrong standard. It is this shuffling feel that looms over the rest of the EP, which consists of the two artists covering each other's songs. Cave's version of "Rainy Night in Soho" is drenched with his gloomy, heroin-addled howl. But his sad voice is what makes his rendition of MacGowan's Irish ballad almost as good as the original. Likewise, hearing Shane MacGowan drunkenly belt out "Lucy" makes it that much more touching. The song feels more like '70s Tom Waits, giving it a slight (but necessary) twist from its original incarnation. Fans of both artists will probably really enjoy this EP, while even those curious about the two artists could easily start their exposure here on this inexpensive delight. © Bradley Torreano /TiVo

Film Soundtracks - Released January 31, 2020 | Milan Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released January 31, 2020 | Masterworks

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Film Soundtracks - Released May 18, 2015 | Goliath Entertainment

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Film Soundtracks - Released May 26, 2017 | Lakeshore Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 13, 2018 | Masterworks

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Film Soundtracks - Released August 12, 2016 | Milan Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released November 11, 2016 | Milan Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 13, 2018 | Milan Records

Punk / New Wave - Released May 3, 2018 | Sonic Book

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Rock - Released November 20, 2007 | Rare Lumiere

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Educational - Released June 23, 2014 | J-2 Music

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Nick Cave in the magazine
  • Alone in Alexandra Palace...
    Alone in Alexandra Palace... The time of Nick Cave the rock’n’roll radical is long gone. Once an erratic punk showman possessed by the ghosts of old greats like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf and others… Time has ver...