Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen
Oct 20, 2019 (updated Oct 20, 2019)
July 14, 2015.

Nick Cave's son, Arthur, died accidentally under tragic circumstances. The singer, forever marked like all parents who had lost their child, would release, a year later, the painful but masterful "Skeleton Tree", an album as intimate as it is minimalist, unanimously applauded. In addition, the movie "One More Time With Feeling" came out, directed by Andrew Dominik, focused on the process of creating "Skeleton Tree" but also on mourning, the acceptance of loss, the unique and real catharsis of the artist more tortured than ever. During the viewing, Nick plunges into a reflection on time and its relationship with human sensitivity. He thus defines it as inexorably "elastic", every moment of the past and the future leading to major events, splendid or tragic, of what makes the life of a sensitive being. It took me more than 3 years to really understand what the words of the cursed poet meant.

"Ghosteen", Nick Cave's 17th album with the Bad Seeds, was announced a week ago symbolically on the Red Hand Files website, created by Nick himself so that he could converse on intimate or social topics with all his fans. Following the tragic events of this last years, he declared that he had never felt himself so close to "the human race" as he does today. More authentic than ever, on October 4th, he offers us a double album about his grievances, sufferings, thoughts and hopes. "Ghosteen", beyond being music, is a bottle in the sea. A bottle in the sea, a letter made to the world, to its living and to its disappeared. Letter made for us, his fans, his son, but especially for himself.

If the concept of catharsis was created by Aristotle, it was to hyperbolically represent what "Ghosteen" is for Nick: a doorway to purge his passions and emotions. While the lyrics of "Skeleton Tree" were written before his son's death, the poems and stories told in "Ghosteen" truly contain all the facets of our artist's grief, no longer afraid of the words and the universe that compose them. Time is elastic, and every word refers as much to the tragedy of 2015 as to a tender future, filled with hope and acceptance of the world in all its dimensions.

"A peace will come in time"

Rhythmic devices, drums and guitars have disappeared: Nick flies away and takes us with him to the top of atmospheric and ethereal musical layers in which skies of changing nuances are formed. Under these painfully soothing skies appears a forest, not perennial and fertile as the cover may suggest, but virgin and leafy where we can distinguish rays of sunshine like reassuring fireflies.

At the same time stroll, awakening, and flight, the two parts designated as "children" and "parents", take us into a universe at the limit of onirism where each song is a step. If "The Spinning Song" is the appearance of the forest, then "Bright Horses" is the first illusions, while "Sun Forest" or "Night Raid" merge into night and daytime contemplation in a tender, magical, and mysterious world where mirages come true, the livings play dead and the deads are alive. "Ghosteen" is not totally a bereaved album, and we can even see these forests of our own dreams in those of Nick, more poetic than ever. It is legitimate to speak of transcendence about an album of perfect homogeneity and such unspeakable beauty, but it is impossible to imagine the circumstances that led to the foundation of such a masterpiece, such a universe, such emotional intensity.

It is even quite ethically complicated for me to write a review about such a creation in such a context. Putting so much of yourself in your art, especially with this circumstances, must be thanked. It is in this way, both for himself and for this masterpiece of musical poetry, that I thank him with all my heart for what he offers us. There are very few artists like him in our time, maybe he is the last, or at least the greatest representative.

"Ghosteen" is an initiatory, intimate and yet universal journey into the heart of the greatest grievances of human sensitivity, created by the most authentic author and composer of our time. The one I legitimately name "my musical soul mate". The one who understands me, and who understand us all. If art can be defined as the sensitive representation of the beauty, "Ghosteen" is the closest thing to this definition.

"A star is just a memory of a star / We are here and you are where you are"

Best tracks: "Bright Horses", "Waiting For You", "Sun Forest", "Hollywood", "Ghosteen", "Galleon Ship", "The Spinning Song", "Ghosteen Speaks", "Night Raid".

Worst track: "Leviathan"
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