Finding Nick Cave

New Musical Express
March 15, 1997

by James Oldham
Sent by Martin

We are beckoned into Nick Cave's London flat, and invited to rummage through his drawers. Once inside, we find the scrawled notes and darkened ink spots that comprise a solitary life in front of an aging typewriter. Such is the joy of King Ink II; a legitimate way for the obsessive to gawp upon Cave at work.

Like it's predecessor, King Ink II, is mainly intended as a comprehensive anthology of Cave's recent lyrics whether released or not (this time, all the songs from Tender Prey onwards), but it's also much more than that. Because in between the typed words, we see what passes through Cave's mind as he composes these songs.

There are scruffy lists of composers, a reminder of everyone who gets killed during Murder Ballads and countless crossed-out alternative lines and titles. There are also lots of pictures of women. It seems that caught between moments of inspiration, Cave doodles away with alarming frequency and frenzied imagination. This book is cluttered with tiny smudged drawings of squatting women with devil's horns and obscured faces.

Still, in the midst of all these semi-formed fantasies and ideas, there are two items of startling clarity. The first is Cave's hilarious treatment for a film which involves the animation of dead toads dressed as, among others, vampires and bumble bees; the second a moving reflection on the role of The Bible in his life to date, which was originally delivered on BBC Radio 3 last year.

In many ways, The Flesh Made Word is the centrepiece of this collection, outlining both Cave's unfulfilled relationship with his late father and the effect of the New Testament on his work. What it reveals - much like the recent The Boatman's Call album - is a man finally attempting to understand his own position in the world.


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