The Hope Six Demolition Project

PJ Harvey

The Hope Six Demolition Project
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The Hope Six Demolition Project

PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey releases her ninth studio album, ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project,’ through Island Records!

‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’ draws from several journeys undertaken by Harvey, who spent time in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. over a four-year period.

“When I’m writing a song I visualise the entire scene. I can see the colours, I can tell the time of day, I can sense the mood, I can see the light changing, the shadows moving, everything in that picture. Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about. I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with,” says Harvey.

The album was recorded last year in residency at London’s Somerset House. The exhibition, entitled ‘Recording in Progress’ saw Harvey, her band, producers Flood and John Parish, and engineers working within a purpose-built recording studio behind one-way glass, observed throughout by public audiences.

This new album follows the 2011 Mercury Prize winning ‘Let England Shake.’

Review

PJ Harvey’s ninth studio album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, grew directly out of the artistic relationship established between Harvey and photographer/filmmaker Seamus Murphy during the recording of her previous album, Let England Shake (2011). This collaboration has also produced The Hollow of the Hand (2015) a book of poetry and images, by Harvey and Murphy respectively, that functions as an unofficial companion piece to this new album. It has similar concerns to its predecessor, and is dominated by an excoriating fascination with the failure of many governments and their infrastructures to meet even the most basic needs of the populations they purport to serve – the title is a reference to the HOPE (Homeownership Opportunities for People Everywhere) VI Program for the revitalisation of ‘Severely Distressed Public Housing’ in the US. Harvey and Murphy spent lengthy periods between 2011–2014 in Washington DC, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and it is those places (rather than England) that is the focus of attention. The eleven tracks work as a series of vividly visual musical snapshots, as Harvey explains: ‘When I’m writing a song I visualise the entire scene. I can see the colours, I can tell the time of day, I can sense the mood, I can see the light changing, the shadows moving, everything in that picture. I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with.‘ This has long been a trademark of Harvey’s writing, dropping the listener in the midst of a pictorial vignette, and these – poisoned rivers, disappearing refugees (‘I heard it was 28,000‘) – are affecting and devastating. Musically, it inhabits similar territory to Let England Shake – Harvey’s melodic lyricism and crisp rhythm guitar create moments of lush beauty offset by field recordings and wonky, unsettling brass that heralds an impending apocalypse.


Lisa MacKinney works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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