23/10/14 – Scott Walker + Sunn O )))) – Soused – 2014

Album Of The Day

Scott Walker and Sunn O)))) Album CoverIn recent years the release of a new Scott Walker album has polarised or perhaps horrified as many as have fallen at his feet. Soused is no exception and when one sees the less than two minute promo (an excerpt from Bull partly sung in Latin) it might be seen more as a warning than as encouragement to buy the record. Although this album is a collaboration with Seattle experimental, drone metal band Sunn O)))), it continues on the same path as Bisch Bosch and The Drift in its desire to avoid songs as much as possible. It’s more like sound with vocals added, not exactly random but you would be forgiven for mistaking the verse for the chorus and vice versa – this of course isn’t the point!

It sounds to me like a medieval gaol transported in a UFO to the other side of the universe. There, on landing on a very dark planet, giant doors open to reveal not monsters but feelings manifested as energy pouring out of jagged craters and lava scorched fissures – emotions as thick black smoke or metallic ore. It’s trauma visualised, it’s an investigation into the complexity of human chaos, acted out in the only place where answers might be found – nowhere! It’s a paradox, a fruitless task and at the same time a fascinating yet deeply pointless meaningful journey where no one’s going to make any friends and in the end it will be totally worth it.

It’s not just challenging or even confrontational, it’s truly avant-garde. It makes Einsturzende Neubauten or Nick Cave sound like variety show acts. Its biggest success is how it has bridged experimental, modern classical and rock music, shaken it up and poured it out onto the stage at The Old Vic Theatre in London. It’s an experimental play dealing with all kinds of philosophies, examining itself as well as examing you, the Janitor Of Lunacy and the history of literature all at the same time. It’s Kurt Veil and Bertolt Brecht doing Shakespeare. It’s death in a coal mine, it’s Death Of A Salesman, it’s stark, cold and caring and exploratory, it’s beautifully sung with resonant commanding tones, it’s fire and brimstone, it’s brave, carefree, uncompromising, it’s monochrome, it’s ragged clothes in disused shipyards, it’s history falling apart in the future.

The album is produced as all Walker’s experimental records have been by Peter Walsh and this collaboration adds new dimensions to his ideas and sonic contribution. The band are perfect, their sounds dug up from under ruined cities make mood and disease throughout the tracks. There are five titles, Brando, Herod 2014, Bull, Fetish and Lullaby, each piece approximately ten minutes long. They scream and wail, drag you by the hair through gravel pits and poisoned quarries and then caress you under the cold stars till your next encounter with the demon inside of you. It’s a nursery rhyme made of thorns, a nettle ice cream tempting you and stinging your tongue till it tears the truth out of you. And what’s most uncomfortable about it is that one moment you are alone freezing, blistered, scraping your soul off the burning ice and the next you are all tucked up in bed, soft candles flickering shadows across the ceiling, the distant hum of security and comfort from the light that glows under your bedroom door and then a déjà vu, an inkling that something is wrong. The mood changes, the atmosphere becomes thick, the light goes out, the candles extinguish themselves and the room begins to shake as you are spread-eagled naked in a cage, rusty bars, the smell of rotting wood and a blackness that is darker than the corner of fear that holds you tight in its unfailing grip.

It’s truly invigorating.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Walker_(singer)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunn_O)))

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soused_(album)

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5 Responses to “23/10/14 – Scott Walker + Sunn O )))) – Soused – 2014”

  1. Tiare Helberg October 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    What a compelling review! The imagery and intensity is perfectly captured in your detailed description. I would love to see Helena Bonham Carter cast as the star of this irresistibly, lush horror show. Inspiring!

  2. simone October 22, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    This has everything – horror, pain,power, violence,denial,strangeness,bleakness,darkness and suffocation, and yet it’s strangely melodic. It’s an epic event. Lullaby is a reworking of the piece that Walker wrote for Ute Lempers 1999 album Punishing Kiss. Just play this loud!

  3. SteFandorin October 23, 2014 at 2:20 am #

    Hey Marty, this is hands down one of the best, if not the best review I’ve read anywhere. I guess I have all of Scott’s albums…Sometimes I think it’s a shame he uses his voice like that…that’d be like using a Rickenbacker to drive in nails…but somehow most of his recent Post-Climate-Of-Hunter stuff clicks with me. No idea why, perhaps growing up with modern classics like Ligeti and Penderecki doesn’t make it as shocking. The string arrangement on Sleepwalker’s Woman…the stopping starting beats from nowhere on the whole Tilt album…that orchestra on Carla – that mad jazzy stompy trippy vision on Epizootix.

    Just bought Soused after reading your review (would have bought it anyway, you sped it up a little), to have it blaring in the car today. Compared to BishBosch and Drift, it’s quite easy listening, isn’t it? I love how he avoids to avoid melodies, like on Bish. And while I think, despite 10/10 pitchfork reviews, Sunn O)))’s sound to be not much more than Beelzebub farting, the combination works amazingly well. Strangely melodic, as Simone says. Tiare, Helena B-C…haha 😀

  4. toby October 23, 2014 at 4:11 am #

    Being a remote fan of Scott Walker, It makes me very happy to read a review so spaced out and so bloody pinpointing and accurate at the same time. If I ever make a record I would very much like You, Sir , to write the review.

  5. delay plus chorus October 23, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    If that review doesn’t wind up in their PR package, they are truly fools.

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