Experimentation in music is the reason why we hear what we do today. If someone didn’t go out of their way to fuck with the listener, who would? Us as humans are intrigued by the some of the oddest things. We enjoy attention, we like it when others we dislike are hurting, and we want limits to be pushed (as long as we aren’t the ones receiving the backfire). When you hear the name Scott Walker, boundary pushing wasn’t an adjective used for him until later in his career with the release of the 1995 album, Tilt. For obvious reasons, this album received mixed ratings because of its off putting sounds, and almost industrial-like production.
11 years later, Walker released his strongest album to date with perfect scores from The Observer, The Guardian, and a strong 9 from Pitchfork. 6 years after the unsettling release, Walker returns with a big hole to fill in the experimental music scene and lots of questions are asked. What’s next? How much is too much? Will he ever return to his art pop roots? What we know for sure is the last question is an obvious no.
The simplest way to sum up this extremely complex album is that you can’t. You can only compare it to the earlier 2012 release, The Seer by Swans with more substance. He toys with jazz, tribal beats, funk, spoken word, alternative rock, art pop, and notably no wave. Anyone unaware of Scott Walker’s work should be noted that he is a very disturbed man, and has an uncanny ability to form thoughts into ‘music’. His vocal talent is amazing for the genre he’s gotten himself into, and uses it to full potential on Bish Bosch. His song writing ability touches on many topics such as torture, social unease, isolation, and well, testicles (Yes read that line again).
Walker captivates you from the beginning with the track, ‘See You Don’t Bump His Head’. The distortion on the song, with walkers aching vocals are mind shattering. Its an experience that you need to have before you judge and listen to the opinions of others. Every track leads its own unnatural structure and is unique in its own way. Epizootics! is easily the most accessible, but has some of the darkest lyrics, talking abou racism and historical events. SDSS14+13B is Scott Walker’s epic on this album. It was one of the highlights and has the most uneasy openings I’ve heard to a track in a long time. Walker grabs your throat with his voice and settles you into a trance until he lets everything go loose on the instrumentation. You find samples of Scott using machetes slicing together, marbles falling onto a table, and scott making some noise with his farts (no pun intended). It truly is a magical listen.
There will be mixed opinions on this record for sure, but you cannot judge it until you listen yourself. Critics will love it, Walker fans will love it, and anyone with an open mind will too. Although it comes down to how much you take out of it, whether you ignore the instrumentation or the lyrical content, you will be left with a dropped jaw and an iPod on repeat. I highly recommend grabbing a copy when it arrives on December 4th from 4AD.