Far From Men / by Charlie Brigden

By Remi Bonnet farfrommen

When he's not busy being reborn with every new album, Nick Cave keeps testing new ideas with his parallel career as a film score composer. In the last ten years, with the tremendous help of his bearded, Rasputin-like compadre Warren Ellis, the Australian has written the soundtrack of numerous projects, some of which are high-profile (The Proposition, The Road, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), some much more obscure (The English Surgeon).

Far From Men falls somewhere in between. This sombre adaptation of an Albert Camus short story can hardly be called a blockbuster. Yet the haunting presence of two established actors (Viggo Mortensen and Reda Kated) elevates it above the average impenetrable arthouse film. For this release, Nick Cave puts aside his songwriting abilities and concentrates exclusively on textures. The first song, 'Far From Men', starts with a strange incantation; a mysterious, uncredited old man seems to summon some ancient spirit and puts a curse on us. Such music is not uncommon in North Africa, but still demands, with unquestionable authority, all our attention. Now the trip begins...

Loyal Nick Cave followers may find Far From Men familiar, and probably disappointing. The singer and his acolyte seem to play on their strengths, with sparse piano notes emerging from a formless magma of various loops, drones and screeching violins. But repeated listens - and intense concentration – enables the discerning listener to sink into the darkness and move along with this strange, always evolving music. And it's not an easy ride. Peaks and valleys abound, sometimes over the course of the same song ('The Teacher') but they lead to the same path : isolation, perdition, and ultimately, death, No escape, nothing to cling to, except, at the very end (on 'Far From Men 2), a few bass notes lifted from Nick Cave's vast songbook ('Saint Huck'). That's not much, but that's enough to drag ourselves away from the abyss and go back to the tangible world, Until next time...

Far From Men is out on digital, CD, and vinyl on May 18th from Goliath