17-06-2024 Music 324

Nick Hudson - Sky Burial While Alive

Nick Hudson - Sky Burial While Alive

Brighton experimental artist Nick Hudson presents 'Sky Burial While Alive', the latest audio-visual offering from his new album 'Kanda Teenage Honey', an expansive 16-track collection recorded in a former Soviet movie studio in Georgia in the build-up to the country's current unrest, which was recently covered in Billboard.

The song features a prologue text on dictators, spoken by Alfreda Benge - collaborator and wife of legendary British composer Robert Wyatt. The video was filmed at the Bologna villa that was used in Pasolini’s 'Salo' (1975) - itself a notorious and damning critique of fascism - and in a Tbilisi art space with a cast of international performers/artists.

“'Sky Burial While Alive' takes its imagery from a scene in my novel 'Inheritance', whereby an oligarch, upon finding his power challenged and his assets diminished, retreats to a Swiss bank vault only to have 7 griffon vultures perform a sky burial upon him, depositing his remains in Lake Geneva. It’s a commentary on the imbalance of power and the thin-skinned nature of those who fetishize and seek to consolidate it at all odds - unfortunately all too pertinent right now in Georgia and other countries in whom Russia has its tendrils," says Nick Hudson.

Having earlier previewed the singles 'For My Silence' and 'Khevsureti', this album was born of geographical explorations amidst musical territory that is hardly touched on. Mixed by and featuring Toby Driver of Kayo Dot, this album involves such luminaries as Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite, Stuart Dahlquist (Asva, Burning Witch, Sunn O))), Lizzy Carey (Bat For Lashes), Robert Wyatt collaborator Alfreda Benge, Christopher Nell (legendary German performer and collaborator of US theatre visionary Robert Wilson), and soprano prodigy Poppy Efemey.  

Recorded with Ilya Lukashev at Leno Studio and Sano Studio in Tbilisi, this album was mastered to analogue tape by Paul Pascoe (Barry Adamson, Beat Hotel, Sleaford Mods) at Church Road Studios in Hove, Hudson collaborates with some incredible Georgian musicians and his friend Seva, a Russian dissident who fled the FSB, having worked for Navalny. Hudson explains, "He contributes a poem narrating his thoughts on exile, through which I've layered field recordings of the recent Tbilisi and Paris protests, where many of us got tear-gassed."

"Russia attempted to invade Georgia most recently in 2008 and we've seen a vast influx of Russians fleeing the conflict and resettling in Tbilisi (which endures and suffers a pro-Russian government ideologically in conflict with most of its citizens). This geopolitical tension has inevitably made its way into the lyrical and musical texture of the record via the songs 'Hollow Man' and 'Sky Burial While Alive'. It also contains oligarch-hexing magic realism and a tribute to that vastly-neglected demographic – the old-school homosexual. Musically it encompasses art rock, black metal, ambient music, agitprop folk, charred goth rock, symphonic vastness and piano ballads -all infused with the energies and landscape of Georgia," says Nick Hudson.

In 2021, Hudson released his 'Font Of Human Fractures' album and the 'K69996ROMA:EP', following his band The Academy of Sun's opus album 'The Quiet Earth' in 2020. He has collaborated with such legends as Wayne Hussey (The Mission), Matthew Seligman (David Bowie, Tori Amos, Morrissey), Massive Attack's Shara Nelson, plus David Tibet (Current 93) and queercore icon GB Jones. His vast output also encompasses painting, film and a novel.

"As an album, 'Kanda Teenage Honey' explores ideas of preserving the sacred from the corrosively kleptocratic institutions of church and state: spiritual and material kleptocracy.  The title itself refers to a very real preservation of innocence derived from a story I heard of a local villager whose teenage son was shot and killed: the father had his son's body preserved in honey. As such, there are secular hymns for peace and lucid stillness, tales of saints de-martyring themselves and falling in love free of judgement from anachronistic scrutiny - a thinly veiled parable of queer love.  Two very close friends died within six months of each other during my first year in Georgia – there are requiems in the songs 'Archipelago' and 'Bardo', plus an acappella tribute to the Siberian husky that helped me grieve them during a retreat to the sublime mountainous region of 'Khevsureti' by the Chechen border, where despite being an ostensibly Orthodox country, pagan traditions are still passionately observed.  I dreamed eighty-percent of 'Bardo' in the energised serenity of this beautiful region while mourning my friend Jesse. Patrick, honoured in 'Archipelago', was one of my earliest mentors and a dynamically brilliant pianist.  They are much missed," explains Nick Hudson.

"'Ortolan' references the summer of 2021, when I fled to the same Isle Of Wight monastery at which Scott Walker had sought refuge in the sixties, as my mental and physical health hit a nadir and I was forced to leave the city I'd called home for twenty years. 'This Heat' refers to a return journey from a plague necropolis at the Chechen border, where giddily drunken park rangers piloting a 4X4 hurtled us passengers down a treacherous mountain pass and I briefly thought it might be the last song I'd ever write.  Since then, I've come to learn that Georgians are some of the virtuosic drivers in the world, even drunk, and I need not have feared."

'Kanda Teenage Honey' is out now everywhere digitally, including Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp and is also available as a 4-panel CD digipak with an 8-page full colour booklet featuring artwork by Nick Hudson and Berdia Arabuli and photography by Carl Solomon, Jack Hubbell Rosene and Kenneth Anger.

Hudson also recently published his book 'The Land Exists So The Seas Don't Argue', showcasing a decade of lyrical output in five albums plus ephemera with a foreword by renowned Scottish author Chris Kelso.

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