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Ghosting: Between Nick Cave and Kim Gordon

Photo by Krys Amon

“Ghosting” is a review of Nick Cave’s studio album “Ghosteen,” and Kim Gordon’s “No Home Record,” released October 2019

Rock music is an umbrella term, in a sense that, although it’s clearly raining (nor reigning, sadly), all it takes for one to say it isn’t is to spread an umbrella over any deviations from it. If the rain doesn’t fall on you, is it really raining, after all? It’s easy to get away with generalities. That being said, although the new Nick Cave and Kim Gordon albums do not necessarily fit into the ‘rock’ spectrum, they are a significant part of its heritage and they cannot escape their roots—they helped create them, after all.

Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation” is one of those albums that I always wanted to call my favorite, simply due to the title, even though it never was. Similarly, I’d love to say I liked Kim Gordon’s solo-album “No Home Record,”even though I didn’t. The husky industrialisms of electronica are fittingly contained in the gravity of Gordon’s vocals, and the defiant lyricism of peeing in the ocean being no less than gratuitous mingles her fight for freedom with consumerism commentary.  In spite of my own musical tastes, I do respect the album, the artist, the legacy.

There is a risk in writing on Nick Cave. There is always a risk within daring to write about someone who seems to see all and understand all, to dare to assume one has the authority to give their opinion on the ‘moonlit man.’ My head is already spinning, like the opening song. Compared to Gordon’s album, his is full of lightness, melodically speaking, even if the first thing I thought of after seeing the album title was Monster High, for some reason, and his bad seed seemed to deliver an Elysian wonderland onto the album cover.

I’m a big fan of connections. Following the lone Woolf tradition (I even live in Bloomsbury), I roam around London, watching how trees fight with the rain, or how people’s shoes don’t match the sidewalk. Of course, Virginia Woolf was fortunate enough to use buying a pencil as an excuse for her walks, whereas mine would have to be something less poetic, such as going to a lecture.

As far as connections go, I couldn’t help but put a Gordon vs Cave case in question. They seem to embody two sides of the same coin. They are both a part of an underground, misunderstood, ‘rock’ tradition; they both speak (and scream) whisperingly; they barely ever sing, and yet they belong to the canon of great voices. They both present the listener with a kind of subdued intensity, which doesn’t need to be intense at all, because it’s inborn, any more of it would bring about nothing but unwanted tension.

If you’re uncertain, ask yourself—do you want to lose or to find yourself? If the former, Gordon does just that, making the Holborn crowds seem like unintelligible raves, people mixing with their shoes with the sidewalk with the green and grey. On the other hand, Cave turns your conditioned tightness into unbearable lightness, his voice breaking and cracking, and his mask unwinding. The poetry of each compliments the other, callout vs confession, beating vs breaking, solid vs fluid. Anger vs angel. I could go on like this for hours.

They are both poets of a now almost ghostlike generation. Ghosteens, soon ghostelders. At a time when it’s normal to ‘ghost’ one another in our everyday discourse, they invite us to live lyrically. Now ghost has been a noun and a verb, a fantasy and a nightmare. Who’s next to make it into something new, something of substance?



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