Nick Cave has always emoted a strong style in all his works. Where living is hard and hard living intertwine and form lyrics which are delivered practically or poetically to create a world that is both bitter and beautiful, harsh but honest.
On his album Skeleton Tree these lyrics are accompanied by stripped down instrumentation which adds a veil of darkness and occasional disorientation to the songs with great effect. It’s in its most experimental and exiting on the track Anthrocene.
The Vocals are very much the forefront of the track but the instrumentation mixes a collection of textures together to both contradict and compliment them.
Elements of the instrumentation also oppose each other, a regimented short low fidelity drum sample loops in intervals fading in and out providing a structure that is challenged by the other live organic improvised percussion. The traditional chord structures on the piano is blended with the warping pitch from guitar and synth sounds. These clashes connect with the vocals tale of isolation, they add a weariness to the cryptic lyrics. What are we supposed to make of them? Are they words of comfort or something far more sinister?
“The dark force that shifts the edge of the tree” may be lyrics in this song but they also summarise what Nick Cave does best. Reflect the side of life we try to ignore. In songs like Anthrocene the music and the lyrics combine and enhance this ideology, taking it from the material to the mythological. The dirt under humanities fingernails is exposed and expressed by a man who’s never shied away from staring. It’s what Nick Cave does best and why you should listen: