Nick Cave and his longtime collaborator Warren Ellis surprise-released a new album, Carnage, Thursday morning. All lyrics on the album are by Cave, while the music is by both of them. With only a few exceptions, the two artists played nearly everything on the record. Physical copies of the album, on CD and vinyl, will be available on May 28th.
Cave teased the album with a letter to a fan as part of his Red Hand Files project last month. This month, he expounded on it by saying, “Carnage is a brutal but very beautiful record embedded in a communal catastrophe.”
“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.”
Ellis and Cave recorded the album over a period of weeks at the London studio Soundtree. In addition to singing, Cave played piano, synthesizer, and percussion on the record. Meanwhile, Ellis handled violin, viola, alto flute, tenor guitar, piano, harmonium, synthesizer, loops, drum machine, glockenspiel, and autoharp, as well as singing backing vocals.
A string quartet accompanied the musicians on “Shattered Ground,” and a choir of five singers rounded out half of the tracks. The Bad Seeds’ longtime drummer Thomas Wydler played on “Old Time,” while Luis Almau, who recorded the record, played drums and guitar on “White Elephant.”
Ellis first played with the Cave’s backing band, the Bad Seeds on 1994’s Let Love In. Since then, he and Cave have forged an enduring creative alliance. In 2005, they collaborated on the soundtrack for The Proposition, a Western for which Cave wrote the screenplay. They’ve since worked on music for theatrical productions and the audio edition of Cave’s 2009 novel, The Death of Bunny Munro. Their most recent collaboration, outside of the Bad Seeds, was 2017’s Wind River.
1. “Hand of God”
2. “Old Time”
4. “White Elephant”
6. “Lavender Fields”
7. “Shattered Ground”
8. “Balcony Man”