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TRACK-BY-TRACK: Ed Harcourt
Christian Eede , August 22nd, 2016 10:23

Running through all the ideas behind the new album

With his new album, Furnaces, just released, Ed Harcourt has delved in-depth into the record to give us a track-by-track guide to the themes explored across its 11 tracks.

'The World Is On Fire'

We don’t own this goddamn world. We are the ultimate arrogant species and we seem to be losing in a pointless battle against Mother Nature. Hey! Let’s destroy everything that gets in our way for the sake of comfort! We will always lose and we are losing now unless we stop being so fucking ignorant. There are animals that have more style and grace than many humans yet we use phrases like ‘pig-headed’ or ‘dog-eared’. She’s a bitch. You’re a cow. YOU DIRTY RAT! YOU LYIN’ SNAKE! We’re the worst of the lot!

We have pillaged, plundered and ransacked this earth, stripping it of its natural resources. There is much beauty to be experienced and enjoyed whilst we’re alive and we are destroying our future for our descendants.

I feel angry at the sheer repugnant disrespect some people have for each other, the celebration of narcissism, the lack of empathy running in correlation with our immersion in unnecessary technology, that somehow cutting yourself off from other people is progression. We are losing touch with reality and we are becoming desensitised to suffering.

The other aspect is that in 2016 we now have access to more information than ever. Before you judge or get bored to death, I must add there are many amazing and caring people in the world & I’m lucky enough to know some of them. But how do we stop the reckless deeds of our nations? How do we halt the flow of destruction and death that echoes through this world every second of the day. the history that repeats itself on a loop. We are walking disintegration tapes! I know, I know...we all just want to get on with our lives in peace...and apathy.

Also, I've always loved the idea of fallen kings - probably ever since King Lear.

So….this song is that we are basically insignificant. Perhaps we can only survive if we realise this. Otherwise you might as well throw yourself into the flames love!

'Loup Garou'

This one was inspired by reading Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Crowds by Charles Mackay, a book written in the 19th century that really is quite ahead of its time. The section on Witchcraft is very interesting, it could have much in common with the current public shaming that exists within our social media; a ‘Loup Garou’ (also know as a ‘rougarou’) was known in France as a werewolf. People in villages would usually accuse the local hermit or village idiot or anyone who might be an outcast as being a shapeshifting demon who would turn into some uncontrollable monster and desecrate and savagely murder their flocks of sheep, their children or cause plagues or illnesses. Witches were drowned and burnt and Loup Garous had nails driven into them and such. Good times!

I guess I feel like the Loup Garou sometimes. I’m a red-blooded male and have a tendency to be aggressive without meaning to be. I feel like sometimes I might switch at the slightest provocation. Men like me should try a little harder to be less reactionary. I’ve always felt women shape the world. They can save it from the pugnacious man. It’s quite a dangerous process. Men are dangerous. The most dangerous animal of all... Are animals psychopaths or are they just being animals? Men have the capacity to think things through or is biological make-up more similar to the very predators we fear and hunt?

Women must save the world. Man will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Takes one to know one. His need for gratification will forever be infinite.

Apparently a ‘Loup Garou’ could change at will rather than relying on the full moon, and would have the full intelligence of a human. More fool him!

'Furnaces'

There will be Oil!

Been quite interested in David Cameron’s complete u-turn on fracking, amongst other promises and policies. His Pinocchio nose grows to the size of floppy wiener dog. This is an actual fact. But it’s ok he done his job and moved on. Now we have Theresa May who’s the heavyweight champion of fracking. Here’s 13k for your trouble! Cameron guaranteed a policy that would lead us to renewable energy in the light of our serious climate change problem and he has not backed up his promise. This conservative government is shameless and shameful in equal measure. Democracy is important, seriously the anarchists have no answer.…but we have been deceived. When are we not lied to? Perhaps it’ll always be this way. We try to change it. I understand the desperation, the need for acknowledgment... the petitions and the click-tivism....

I wanted this song to sound like a loping, clanking, fire-breathing giant made out of machinery eating up the earth and spewing vast projectiles of junk out, leaving chaos and emptiness in its wake. A metaphor perhaps for our landfills, plastic wastelands, junkyards…. when the caveman first made fire I’m sure he had no idea what would happen. Poor Fred Flintstone. He’ll sleep when he’s dead.

There’s a slight throwing of caution to the wind with this record. A gleeful carelessness I guess. At the risk of sounding nihilistic I hasten to add that hope is never far away - but it is a distant lantern swaying precariously in the darkness…

'Occupational Hazard'

Misanthropy is a noble art. Like they the old adage says, ‘one cannot love another unless one loves oneself’. Bullshit! Well Misanthropy is the same but the opposite. Disdain for dessert! This song has worn many different disguises. It’s a real huckster. It’s trying to con you and seduce you, it knows how horrendous it is but it’s hiding it true spots under the stars. It’s conspiratorial according to one friend of mine. Again this song touches on the menace and the threat that my fellow man poses to animals, nature, life, women….goodness does exist, but we all have the capacity to sway and tick-tock from good to evil, that's what interests me - the susceptibility, the devil on the shoulder, the art of persuasion, the seduction, Kaaa in the jungle book, the peer pressure, crowds move as one, lynch mobs, the sick fever of blind ignorance and fear, the way we give our selves up to demagogues and hateful ideology. Ring my bell!

'Nothing But A Bad Trip'

There’s a part of one’s past where I quite enjoyed letting myself slip into sedated unconsciousness; I enjoyed the finer things in life, in vast amounts and rather frequently…one can slip into the role of a bon viveur at the best of times but there were points when it certainly became quite boring and not heroic at all.

I suppose this is a depiction of some nightmarish delusion under the influence, where Death is cradling you in her arms and singing you lullabies and the 3 other horsemen are looking in the fridge for booze, you long for your mother, for a simpler, more innocent life perhaps back in the warmth of that tranquil womb but it’s really too late so you might as well just accept your ‘lot’. Flood was quite impressed by my grasping of the sonically lower frequency echelons here, so he really expanded on that with much relish. This where you let everything go……all your woes SUBside.

'You Give Me More Than Love'

There was a film called Orphee that really stayed with me. Very dreamlike, directed by Jean Cocteau, a modernist take on the tale of Orpheus. He falls in love with Death who is portrayed as a beautiful woman who materialises through the mirror in a house, a mirror being the only gateway to the underworld. There seems to be a few references to characters from folklore and mythology on this album….this song also mentions Virgil from Dante’s Inferno…I guess the main protagonist here has chosen something that could only be more powerful than love which is an unbearable thought. I want this song to pin you to the wall, to overwhelm in the most oppressive way, the feeling of being underwater and almost drowning. A sort of aural hypnagogia.

'Dionysus'

We have so much to give. We have lost our way. Again this is about man as creator/destroyer, lover/fighter…. The poet but also the goat. The uncontrollable urges that can’t be accounted for due to the ridiculous excuse of biological make-up, there is an equal amount of irrationality in both sexes in completely different ways. But we do have will power, we are not simple animals, we choose, we decide, we cause our outcomes; ego, lack of restraint, desire…the hunger for power….always teetering on a see-saw of morals….. fucking and eating. You want to have it all. You cannot stop. You were born to kill. You savage all that loves you. The celebration of your own downfall. Plunder and leave the carcasses to rot on the side of the road. William Burrough’s Thanksgiving Prayer. A complete lack of responsibility.

'There Is A Light Below'

I’ve always viewed the concept of God with a distant suspicion. A malevolent Geppetto. It’s hard to trust anyone in power, someone who can make the right decisions for you; but I know that we need to have certain people in responsible positions who can make important choices for society to function correctly. We have always been being lied to and when you see all the evidence that connects the evidence of the elite, big business and secret societies together, it’s very disheartening. I guess it’s been like this for years. A lot of the time, we are being distracted by one issue, so as not to draw attention to a different problem and thus the government gets away with getting what it truly wants. Absolute power and manipulation over its citizens. Don’t get me wrong, anarchists have no solution either. It feels very cynical but I don’t believe anyone who becomes a politician doesn’t have a huge thirst for power. If this song was a politician I would hope it would be Screaming Lord Sutch. I don’t know what the hell Michael Blair is playing here but I like it.

'Last Of Your Kind'

It’s a celebration folks but not as we know it. Kevin Shields was in the next room while we were recording this and I almost plucked up the courage to ask him to play something on it but was dissuaded when someone suggested it might take longer than expected as Kevin is somewhat of a born perfectionist (see track record). This is the, I suppose, the hopeful love song of the record. However as this ever-burning, effervescent love is being declared, the whole of London seems to be spiralling into sinkholes and falling into the Thames, but the lovebirds are wrapped in such sweet oblivion it really doesn’t matter anymore.

'Immoral'

This one was written very early on. As usual I’d reached peak self-loathing and decided to be positive and purge its unruly and unwanted smackdown into something on tape I guess. The protaganist is unrepentant and totally content in his malevolence. He’s the worst sociopath, he can seduce and terrify in equal measure. A total bastard to be fair. I wouldn’t want to meet this guy on a dark night.

'Antartica'

THE MOSQUITO COAST MEETS SHACKLETON MEETS GORECKI MEETS NEU MEETS WARPAINT MEETS BAD JAZZ MEETS DOG DAY AFTERNOON MEETS NICK DRAKE MEETS INTO THE WILD MEETS PARENTHOOD MEETS ME.

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