We use cookies for site personalization, analytics and advertising. You can opt out of third party cookies. More info in our privacy policy.   Got it

Plague Songs

The Book of Exodus provides the starting point for this inspired collection of ten songs based on the plagues sent to bother the Old Testament Egyptians. Commissioned by the British art facilitators Artangel – part of a larger event based in the dilapidated seaside town of Margate that explores issues around identity, migration and even retribution – *Plague Songs* gathers a luminary cast. Brian Eno and Robert Wyatt, in the latest manifestation of their long working relationship, deliver up a truly revolting plague of flies; Laurie Anderson’s sombre tones present a mournful take on the fifth plague’s cattle slaughter, and Stephin Merritt’s ‘Meaning of Lice’ is a black and itchy pop song, rather like those produced while in his Gothic Archies guise. The beauty of this audacious project is that songs and their very different soundworlds provide their own narration of journey and difference. It avoids the overly dramatic and Scott Walker’s startling call and response ‘Darkness’ is as histrionic as *Plague Songs* gets. The surprises come from Imogen Heap’s locust-laden ‘Glittering Crowd’ and the Tiger Lillies’ offering, ‘Hailstones’, a song worthy of Nick Cave’s statuesque desolation. Come to think of it, why isn’t Cave on this?

New Internationalist issue 396 magazine cover This article is from the December 2006 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Subscribe today »

Help us keep this site free for all

Editor Portrait New Internationalist is a lifeline for activists, campaigners and readers who value independent journalism. Please support us with a small recurring donation so we can keep it free to read online.

Support us » payment methods

Subscribe   Ethical Shop