For my work out today I danced to the new Nick Cave album, Skeleton Tree. This one is orchestral, slow and lyrically driven, such a good record. I learned afterward from Pitchfork that near the album's completion Nick Cave's twin son fell from a cliff and died. My heart sank. "The song [Jesus Alone] was among the first Cave wrote for the record, yet its opening image—'You fell from the sky, crash-landed in a field near the River Adur'—feels unbearably prescient." God. Glad I didn't know that about this album before I danced to it. It would have been too hard to move.
As it was I entered a strange upside down world. The ceiling in the basement is so low I can almost put my elbows on it. So with my eyes shut I put my hands up on the ceiling and pretended like it was the floor, and I the gravity was low enough that I could move around on my hands. It was a self-illusion.
About half way through the album I wanted to try something more cardio oriented, so I switched to Kanye West's Life of Pablo. Turned out this was another gospel record of sorts. But the pure puerility of Kanye makes for such a strange counterposition to the hard-earned wisdom of Nick Cave. A study in contrasts. Yet I loved it for the adrenaline rush. And here and there is an honest grappling with honest grappling. It's often clever and thought provoking too. For example, Pablo in the title might refer by turns to Picasso, the drug lord Pablo Escobar, or as Kanye hints, the Apostle Paul...
Both records got a 9.0 on Pitchfork. Go figure. Two self-styled off-kilter gospel records, both equally well made, and seemingly from opposite ends of the spectrum. A perfect dance between the two.
I sometimes wish others were witnessing these overtures, but then again I suppose someone was.