PJ Harvey completes first week of recording new album at Somerset House

Harvey is recording in front of members of the public at central London location

PJ Harvey has completed the first week of her time at Somerset House in London, where she is recording her new album in front of members of the public.

Harvey has opened up the recording sessions for her ninth album to fans with members of the public watching in 45-minute windows since last Friday (January 16) as she and her band record the album at the venue. Harvey has claimed that she thinks the experiment will “help tap into a different level of consciousness”.

Those who have attended the public sessions were given a programme, which includes an interview between Harvey and Michael Morris of collaborators ArtAngel. In the interview Harvey answers questions on her songwriting process, as well as how she records in the studio and her history with art and poetry.


Asked what drew her to Somesert House, Harvey explained that “When you’re making music with other people in a space, you connect on a very primal level in a musical conversation, communicating emotionally and musically. There’s very little barrier and you’re not only letting in the other musicians and the music, but also the surroundings and being open to everything that’s ever gone on in and around the space.”

In his blog for Uncut, John Mulvey noted that during his visit on Tuesday (January 20), Harvey was recording one song with the repeated refrain “God sent you”. “The number of musicians is sparse,” he reported. “But the sound is dense and frictional; ‘Is This Desire’ might be the closest comparison, though it may also be a mistake to draw comparisons at this early stage. It is, though, a short and instantly excellent song, and one whose catchiness will become apparent in the next 45 minutes. Harvey’s part ends with some virtuoso whoops.”

Meanwhile, an NME writer who attended one of the public sessions noted the following song titles written on the wall of the studio Harvey is recording in.

‘River Anacostia’
‘Homo Sappy Blues’
‘Imagine This’
‘Chain Of Keys’
‘The Ministry Of Defence’
‘Near The Memorials To Vietnam & Lincoln’
‘The Boy’
‘A Dog Called Money’
‘A Line In The Sand’
‘The Ministry Of Social Affairs’
‘Dollar Dollar’
‘The Age Of The Dollar’
‘I’ll Be Waiting’
‘The Community Of Hope’
‘The Orange Monkey’
‘The Wheel’

The album will be Harvey’s first since ‘Let England Shake’, which was released in 2011. She is also working on her first poetry book, The Hollow Of The Hand, which is due out this autumn.

The exhibition runs until February 14.


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