Ghosteen – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

So Rammstein play up all the tropes for their place in the end of year SFTD’s (is that what we’re calling these? No. You’re right that was cringe. Let us never speak of it again). Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. Well. They took a different path.

Nobody knew Ghosteen was coming until it was right on top of us. It’s enormous. It’s deep and different and complicated and yet overly simple in places. Ghosteen arrived to the world as a multi media experience with mood board video clips, lyric’s appeared on screen through ghostly fog and digital lenses flecked with CGI rain. The sleeve (If we could even call it that at first light) and the deep humming Insta posts with their overly glossy emoji’s and their teenage girl dream imagery (ponies and waterfalls echoing airbrushed Disney la-la-land never looked so heavy)

Whenever The Bad Seeds are away from their rock and roll show they’re living in the land of soundscapes, scores, experimental noise and curated artists noises. Bare in mind that Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have been scoring movies on and off for over two decades now.

Like Radiohead and their more Weather Report(ish) moments. It’s the rock and roll band I came to see. I get it. I see they grew beyond it. But I kinda miss The Bends! I was kinda missing Dig! Lazarus! Dig! And The Lyre Of Orpheus of late. I was kinda missing Grinderman too.

Their last album Skeleton Tree was impenetrable for me. I knew of the huge personal loss in Cave’s life around the time of it’s release but that wasn’t it. I felt less in love with Push The Sky Away before it than I had the previous couple of records. See I liked my Bad Seeds verbose, boisterous and a little drunk. The sweeping beauty of Jubilee Street wasn’t lost on me but the album as a whole was a little too classy. Skeleton Tree too removed from my ears to connect.

Ghosteen didn’t bode well. On first listen in the car I couldn’t hear it at all. Spinning Song was too slight. The length too much and the rock and roll completely absent. Had these Bad Seeds dried up in the sunlight?

The praise kept coming in for the expansive double album so I went back to it at home. In the front room. Lights low. YouTube up on the TV and everyone else out. And there it was. A concept album on loss, love, beauty, grief, futility and hope. Two hours of poetry and noise.

Ghosteen the song is part of disc two. Cave and the Seeds write “The songs on Part One are the children, and the songs on Part Two are their parents”. I took that as little light melodies and moods of wist followed by epic full blown states of being. If it gets you in the right mind you can come out of Ghosteen red eyed, snot flecked and wheezing like a newborn sparking a marlboro.

The title track is an epic of mood and of trans-dimensional beauty over ten minutes long. The first five of your Earth minutes play like an undiscovered 70’s movie soundtrack you never heard before. Synth’s that compliment Tangerine Dream and Giorgio Moroder wash about for half the time before Cave announces

“This world is beautiful, Held within its stars, I keep it in my heart”

Then there is a classic NCATBS ballad for the next five. Up there with The Weeping Song or Fable Of The Brown Ape.

Ghosteen is a masterpiece of a record by a popular recording artist. It’s also a stark and awkward artistic statement for consideration and contemplation. You might rush to it based on either of those sentences (or lets be honest because he’s blogger nip and the entire internet is telling you it’s one of the albums of the year) or you might just swerve it for exactly those reason and go looking to see if anyone is discussing whatever happened to Jimmy Eat World.

Happy New Year!

11 thoughts on “Ghosteen – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

  1. First things first, I need to book some time to properly listen to Ghosteen. Like you, I didn’t really dig it on first listen. The kinda listen where I’m not super focused on it.

    Secondly, Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus is a fucking monster good record. Probably their best in my opinion. I don’t think that can be topped. No sir. Fable of the Brown Ape. Oooft!

    Thirdly, Push the Sky Away really grew on me. I reckon that one pointed the way Cave & Co. were headed with their vibes.

    Finally, I love the header image. Perfect placement of that sign, eh? Great choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have to stop myself playing the thing too often. But it took a few listens to even begin to appreciate Ghosteen. And then it poured into me. Couldn’t erase the sounds from my head, couldn’t get to sleep properly. The lyrical finale, where Buddha steers the mourning mother all around the village, to see that suffering is universal, is masterful grade AAAA.
    As a whole, the album brings to mind Bowie’s Blackstar. It forays out beyond this life. Goes beyond gloom and pain into transcendence.
    Like J. says, Push The Sky Away gave hints.

    Liked by 1 person

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