On 8th September, Nick Cave released a film, One More Time With Feeling, to go alongside his new album Skeleton Tree. Daoud Al-Janabi gives us his take on Cave’s latest venture.
As much as it’s about recording an album, or being Nick Cave, or anything else, One More Time With Feeling is really just about one thing. Last year Cave’s son died in a tragic accident, and it is this that defines both the film and the album it accompanies.
Cave is absolutely magnetic. It’s no surprise that this is the second time in two album cycles that a film has been shot with him at its centre. Cave ranks among the great characters in music, his persona as musician is as compelling as any scriptwriter could conjure. Watching him create and collaborate with his fellow Bad Seeds, in particular Warren Ellis, is a gift any fan of his will be able to appreciate. Watching him deal with his grief is harder, and makes for an emotionally harrowing experience.
It didn’t occur to me while I was watching it, perhaps because it wasn’t on my laptop, but Nick Cave’s latest cinematic adventure is very much in keeping with the current trend of the visual album, formalised by Beyoncé and embraced by many more. The film is inextricably linked to the music it contains, presenting a series of very slickly filmed and occasionally bizarrely stylised live performances of the songs from Skeleton Tree, the album released alongside the film. From a purely musical standpoint, it makes a very compelling case.
The songs are heart breaking, yet do not suffer from the unpleasant voyeurism that marks the film. On record Cave is very much in control. Though he has consented to the film, his actions are being measured by other’s standards (indeed near the beginning of the film Cave ridicules the never completely justified decision to shoot in black and white and 3D) and it is these constraints that often make watching him grieve unpalatable. The film draws its title from one of Cave’s new songs, but could very easily be an ironic rebuke against a film maker documenting his sadness.
“One more time with feeling”.
Image: the Independent