The Wheel

Album: The Hope Six Demolition Project (2016)
  • This is the lead single from The Hope Six Demolition Project, an album recorded by PJ Harvey in a purpose-built public studio during a month-long residency at London's Somerset House. Harvey worked behind one-way glass with her band, producers Flood and John Parish, and engineers, observed throughout by public audiences.
  • The record was inspired by Harvey's trips to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. with photographer Seamus Murphy over a four-year period. This song depicts an empty playground with lyrics about "28,000" children vanishing in Kosovo.
  • Harvey published her first collection of poetry, The Hollow of The Hand, in 2015. She debuted this song at the book launch on October 9, 2015 in London.
  • The song was inspired by a journey that PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy made to Kosovo in the summer of 2011. They were asked to attend a screening of the complete 12 Short Films that Murphy had made for Harvey's Let England Shake album, and to be part of a Q and A afterwards. Murphy wrote:

    "The song The Wheel has the journey to Kosovo at its centre. Who is to say what else has influenced and informed its creation? The sight of a revolving fairground wheel in Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje near the capital Pristina is the concrete reference point for the title. I can tell you its date – 4th August 2011 – from the piece of footage I made as we walked up the street to our parked car near the train station. It was a passing observation of a commonplace image, one of many that day.

    While Polly took notes I might have been more interested in something else happening across the street and not bothered to shoot or even have seen it. That day we were gathering material in a blind, optimistic endeavour; characteristic of the way we tend to work together. We had no idea if any of it would ever be seen, heard or would make sense."
  • The video, which was directed by Murphy, is a real-time capture of the pair's visits to Kosovo. Murphy wrote: "Making the film for The Wheel involved a mix of footage from the first trip in 2011, rehearsals I shot of Polly in London and the most recent trip to Kosovo. The enormous refugee crisis in Europe had been news for months. I spent some time on the Greek and Macedonian borders, and in Serbia, before travelling into Kosovo. It was happening in and through territories associated with recent conflicts in Kosovo and the wider Balkans. The idea of cycles, wheels and repetition once again being all too apparent and necessary to make.

    We salute the life of Nesim Kryeziu (1938 – 2016) the wonderful man in the film performing a traditional dance with a glass of water on his head at a wedding in his village of Brezne in the Opoja region of Kosovo."

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