For his second novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, Nick Cave Nick Cave invited Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard to produce the audiobook. Keen to create an immersive and transportive experience for the listener, the artists worked with excerpts of music and sounds provided by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis mixed with real-world audio recordings to construct an 8 hour soundscape. The audibook is designed not only enhance your experience of the novel, but also to disturb and punctuate it.
Exploring the boundaries of conventional technology, the audiobook was produced in 3D. Working with a team of leading acousticians at Arup, the project required a series of custom computer programs to layer the “spatial time signature” of all of the multi-track recordings. The spatialisation script created by the artists became the basis for placing each discrete sound into both physical and emotional three-dimensional spaces. The result is subtle and immersive – something between a film soundtrack, a radio play and an hallucination.
Nick Cave says: “The idea of creating a book which can be experienced in different ways is exciting for me. Iain and Jane, with Arup, have created a groundbreaking audio journey which allows the listener to experience the book in a hitherto unprecedented third dimension. The fact that the reader can choose his or her own experience is interesting because the true meaning of a book lies in the reader’s own interpretation and the circumstances of that interpretation.”
The Death of Bunny Munro audiobook is published by Canongate in multiple formats including a deluxe 7CD package with a bonus DVD featuring films by Forsyth & Pollard, a downloadable audiobook and as an enhanced iPhone App. The recordings were mastered by Will Quinnell at Sterling Sound, NYC and sound was spatialised by Terence Caulkins, Anne Guthrie, Raj Patel and Ryan Biziorek.
Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds wrote: “What occurred to me as I enjoyed the audiobook of The Death of Bunny Munro so very much was the notion that the plain old book version is a lesser experience when compared to the audiobook. When an audiobook is done this well, inevitably the text-only version will come to be seen as the script of the audiobook. Of course not every author is a performer the caliber of the great Nick Cave, but as the audiobook form matures, why would the consumer choose to forgo the music and intimate storyteller aspect of authors reading their own work?”
Following the publication of The Death of Bunny Munro a series of special events took place throughout Europe. Taking place in intimate theatre settings these unique shows were a mix of readings and live music, with Cave joined by Warren Ellis and Martyn Casey. The format of the evening was devised by Forsyth & Pollard, who also designed the lighting and visuals. Beginning at The Palace Theatre in London, going on to Dublin, Edinburgh, Antwerp, Hamburg, Paris, Stockholm, Milan and Barcelona, before returning for a final night in London. Special guests appeared throughout the tour, including Blixa Bargeld who read from the book in German and PJ Harvey who joined Cave for an impromptu duet in London.
From Wired Magazine: “The multiformat release turns the tables on the traditional roles of reader and writer: In the audiovisual versions, Cave drives your emotions where he wants them to go. Readers get inside his head rather than projecting their own ideas on the work. During a passage that reads: “Bunny realizes that something has changed in his wife’s voice, the soft cellos have gone and a high rasping violin has been added,” violins rasp on the audiobook’s soundtrack, literalizing the writer’s vision. Cave uses his music to emphasize the emotional turmoil of the characters — the frantic sound of screeching violins or an almost imperceptible percussion track that moves the drama along — giving the writer yet another venue for expressing his creativity. His writing is visual, musical and extremely poetic: “And like an act of love he sucks deep on a Lambert & Butler… and he says ‘Fuck,’ and blows two furious tusks of smoke from his nostrils. This is pure punk poetry.”