Staff Picks: Ghostly Records ‘Opiate’ Compilation, David E. Williams’ ‘Hospice Chorale,’ PJ Harvey’s “I’ll Be Waiting”

Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Scroll through for our picks below.

PJ Harvey’s “I’ll Be Waiting” 

This song’s been haunting me for a bit. Released alongside another track — “A Dog Called Money” — back in late April, it sounds unassuming, sweet, and innocuous. But, similar to much of 2011’s Let England Shake, the implications of PJ Harvey’s lyrics here work in opposition to the sound, as Harvey sends a horrific take on the cyclicality of war on the carrier pigeon of her most lullaby-like track.

Where her last album, Hope Six Demolition Project was more bombastic and sonically warlike in its arrangements, “I’ll Be Waiting” sees Harvey stripping down to nothing but guitar and the faint backing vocals of her numerous bandmates. It took me a couple of listens to fall in love with this track — the simple, fable-like first person account at first seemed trivially folksy. But take that against the fact that this is an artist who wrote furiously sexual Rid of Me and To Bring You My Love, the electronically bluesy gloom of Is This Desire, the karaoke-worthy yet gritty as fuck Stories From the City, the choked antiquity of White Chalk, and the impressionistic WWI nightmare of Let England Shake: “going acoustic” is itself a form of experimentalism for Harvey.

As in most of her tracks, Harvey here certainly isn’t narrating from the point of view of Harvey. This song is a deliberately vague tale of revenge and radicalization, and Harvey sings as a child whose family, town, and entire life have been demolished: “They swept across the land/They did not leave a thing/They did not leave a person/A stone or a tree/They did not leave anything/All it’s left is sand,” she croons, repeating the latter. The narrator turns to “hat[ing] everyone,” proclaims that “thorns shall grow from [the] graves” of those who were killed. Then, in a morbid twist on time-traversing folk classics like Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game,” Harvey repeats most of the lyrics of from the beginning, replacing “they” with “I.” “And when they return/I will be waiting/I will not leave a person/Standing/I will not leave anything/All I’ll leave is sand.” It’s almost stupidly simple — just like human patterns of violence and retaliation — and its horrifying prettiness shows just how easy it is to get caught up in it.  — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor


Opiate

This week’s pick is one from a few years back; 2013, to be precise. It’s a record called simply Opiate, and it’s the fourth in Ghostly Records’ excellent SMM series, which involve compilations of various artists’ work around loose, nebulous themes. The uniting factor in all the SMM releases is that their music eschews melody almost entirely, focusing instead on sound design, atmospherics, and ambient composition. Opiate is… well, it’s a perfect evocation of the drugs that give the compilation its name, without all the nasty IRL complications. Across the course of nine tracks, the compilation gives you the sense of a slow descent into a place of peaceful, colorless emptiness, and then a gentle ascent back into the world, just as the first light of day peeps through the curtains. It’s intoxicatingly beautiful. — Tom Hawking, Editor-in-Chief

[Disclaimer: I was invited to write the press release for this album on its release, which is how I discovered its charms.]


David E. Williams’ Hospice Chorale

David E. Williams, who you might know through his collaboration with Christian Death’s Rozz Williams or his Philadelphia band Destroying Angel (full disclosure: I know Williams as the former proprietor of the now-closed Germ Books in Philadelphia), just released his seventh full-length album Hospice Chorale. It finds Williams as the troubadour narrator once more, distilling classical, goth, post-industrial, and dark cabaret down to his own brand of gut-punch nihilism, gallows humor, and expressionist wordplay. It’s lyrical, cathartic, and absurd — featuring the only song you’ll hear this year about a man who yearns to be a horse. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor


The Logan Lucky Trailer

I’ve reached a point as a moviegoer where – unless, obviously, I’m writing about it for you, dear reader – I skip trailers of pretty much anything I definitely do or don’t want to see, since they’re not going to change my mind either way (and if it’s something I already want to see, I’d rather go in cold). But I have to admit, I couldn’t resist taking that first peek at Steven Soderbergh’s first feature in four years, and have probably queued it up a time or five since. It’s just a blast, a quick jolt of the energy and style that was so embedded in Soderbergh’s style, and that’s been so sorely missing from much of mainstream moviemaking in the years since. Yet even this shot of joy ends in melancholy – I can’t see this until August?!? — Jason Bailey, Film Editor


Les Figues Press

Today is the last day to buy books 50% off from Les Figues Press. Try Jessica Bozek’s The Tales, told from the point of view of a lone survivor (“stitching together a post-apocalyptic history from the scraps of fairy tales, war memorials, hunting songs, and disparate scholarship”), Divya Victor‘s Things To Do With Your Mouth, which explores the physical and metaphorical silencing of women, and Dodie Bellamy’s Cunt Norton, which is on my to-read list and should be bought for the title alone. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor