Nick Cave And Warren Ellis – Loin Des Hommes (Far From Men)

A masterclass in subtlety...

Surprisingly, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have been at the soundtrack game for an entire decade now.

Opening with the John Hillcoat directed (and Cave penned) 'The Proposition' – set in the wilds of their native Australia – the pair have returned again and again to projects aching with isolation and cinematic promise, be it 2009's successful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road or Amy Berg's unflinching documentary West Of Memphis three years later.

This time, the duo have found another fine match in David Olehoffen's Loin Des Hommes (Far From Men), triple prizewinner at the Venice film festival and adapted from Albert Camus' short The Guest. Set in rural Algeria during the country's war of independence, two men (Viggo Mortensen and Reda Kateb) must overcome their differences and take an impossible journey to escape the growing violence.

With existentialism and unforgiving landscapes in check, the pair return to Ellis' familiar but hypnotic collection of violin loops and build gently on from there. There's less of Cave's piano work on offer here and instead the listener is treated to a more pensive and drone-heavy compilation. Occasionally, the material almost reminds of a toned-down Vangelis, only to be hit with some arresting Arabic vocals on the following track.

A traditionally-spiced ambient record, owing as much to the landscape of Algeria as Aphex Twin, with a nod to the pair's day jobs thrown in for good measure. Fleeting use of flute, mandolin and percussion elevate these fourteen tracks, but never to grandstand level.

It's the pair's most experimental soundtrack to date, one that seems to have been composed in a late night haze – but all the better for it. The understated nature of the score makes it doubtful this will bag many awards or turn many heads but, never mind: grab some headphones and enjoy the ride.


Words: Sam Walker-Smart

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