Thursday, November 18, 2004

Nick Cave Inches His Way Forward

There is an interview with Nick Cave at that is quite interesting from the Advanced perspective. Here are some choice bits about the new records, the band, Christianity, etc.:

With the new records, a new band identity has been found. The Bad Seeds sound fleeter, more flexible, less blockishly, Teutonically powerful than they used to be. While, like the Bad Seeds of old, they take some inspiration from industrial and punk, just as much of the band's sound is now drawn from big, glossy '70s rock (the downside of this is when they make use of a horrible group of singers called the London Gospel Choir, who make some songs sound like rejects from "Jesus Christ Superstar"). And violinist Warren Ellis, of the Dirty Three, whose prominence in the Bad Seeds is steadily increasing, brings to this record a new harmonic palette, taking more from Celtic folk music and less from the blues.

[This is very promising. I'll bet that those "Jesus Christ Superstar" rejects are the most Advanced songs on the records.]

The single most significant event in the Bad Seeds' recent evolution was unquestionably the departure last year of Blixa Bargeld, one of the few members who had been there since the beginning. Bargeld was the wildest, the most talented of the bunch, and also the most dedicated to pure, anarchic noise, the most incompatible with Cave's new, kindler, gentler aesthetic.

"He was such a significant presence in my adult life," Cave told me. "That he's not around, there's just a big hole there. At the same time, we were moving towards something that was less ironic in nature, and he was very much about playing the guitar in a non-guitar way. You know, that I have this sort of foreign instrument in my hands, and I'll make the best of it that I can. Whereas, if, in a way, Warren has replaced Blixa to a degree, and filled that hole, Warren doesn't play music in that way. He plays it in the opposite way, without any irony, and with a real love of rock 'n' roll and noise."

[If you follow the Advanced theory, you know that embracing rock'n'roll is one of the earmarks of the Advanced musician. Just as important, irony has no place in an Advanced musician's music. Plus ,Blixa Bargeld is an overt name if I've ever heard one.]

Throughout the 17 songs of "Abattoir Blues/ The Lyre of Orpheus" Cave's poetic voice is unmistakable: weightily rooted in the King James Bible, full of imagery of the American South drawn from both old blues lyrics and Southern writers like Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, and increasingly informed by modernist poetry (W.H. Auden is a particular favorite). "I try to write in a very deliberate way, with a lot of thought to the way the lines are constructed ... and in an almost outmoded language," Cave said. "That doesn't really happen in rock 'n' roll music, and it shouldn't happen in rock 'n' roll music, but it does in my rock 'n' roll music."

[More rock'n'roll talk. Also, Advanced musicians tend to talk about their latest project in the most exalted language possible.]

One of the most intriguing aspects of Cave's lyric writing is his use of Christian imagery. Modern pop rock songwriting is full of it, but it is usually used for its aesthetic, rather than religious, potency. Cave's use of Christian imagery is different in that he is a believer.

[Being Christian is Advanced. Bob Dylan invented this form of Advancement.]

Cave told me that he does not go to church, and that he is not affiliated with any particular branch of Christianity, but there is no question that his God is a Christian God. When I asked Cave if he had any interest in other religions, or in a broader, non-religious spirituality, he replied, "Oh, a passing, skeptical kind of interest. I'm a hammer-and-nails kind of guy."

[It would be overt to embrace some kind of New Age take on Christianity that embraces all faiths. Being a "hammer-and-nails" guy is not overt.]
I'd also like to add that he has sung with Kylie Minogue, which, if not Advanced, is smart.

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