Nick Cave and longtime collaborator Warren Ellis have surprised-released a new album today, CARNAGE.
The lockdown-born album was first teased on Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files earlier this year, in a post that saw him delve into his experience with the pandemic.
“In many ways, lockdown has felt weirdly familiar, like I’ve experienced it before,” he wrote at the time. “I guess this should come as no surprise as I was a heroin addict for many years and self-isolating and social distancing were the name of the game.”
He continued, “I am also well acquainted with the mechanics of grief — collective grief works in an eerily similar way to personal grief, with its dark confusion, deep uncertainty, and loss of control. For me, lockdown feels like a state-mandated version of more of the same — a formalization of the kind of hermit-like behavior to which I’ve always been predisposed, and so, as difficult as it has been to see the devastation and anguish caused by the pandemic — including to the lives of those close to me, and many who have written into the Red Hand Files — I have been doing okay.”
Cave went on to detail the toll that not being able to perform live has had on him: “I am surprised, though, at just how hard not being able to play live has felt. I have come to the conclusion that I am essentially a thing that tours. There is a terrible yearning and a feeling of a life being half-lived. I miss the thrill of stepping onto the stage, the rush of the performance, where all other concerns dissolve into a pure animal interrelation with my audience.”
“I miss the complete surrender to the moment, the loss of self, the physicalness of it all, the feeding frenzy of communal love, the religion, the glorious exchange of bodily fluids — and the Bad Seeds themselves, of course, in all their reckless splendor, how I miss them. As much as sitting behind my desk can bring me a lot of joy, and the imagination can be a stimulating, even dangerous place, I long for the wanton abandon of the live performance.”
Nick Cave concluded the entry with confirmation that he and Warren Ellis had hit the studio together and penned a new album: “Anyway, as promised in my last issue, I did go into the studio — with Warren — to make a record. It’s called CARNAGE.”
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Cave further teased the record in a follow-up letter to a fan this month, “Carnage is a brutal but very beautiful record embedded in a communal catastrophe,” he wrote.
“Making Carnage was an accelerated process of intense creativity,” Ellis said in a statement. “The eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two-and-a-half days.”
All the lyrics on Carnage were penned by Nick Cave, with the music written in collaboration with Warren Ellis. The majority of the instruments were played by the pair, bar a few exceptions.
The record is available to stream now, with physical copies of the album, on CD and vinyl available on May 28th. Listen to it below.