Yoko Ono, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson – barmy or genius? Or both? Whatever, Scott Walker fits into the same category. My opinion? A free thinker, a lone spirit, a true original.
I was born after the Walker Brothers had called it a day, but, somehow somewhere I latched onto them. As a teenager I loved the obvious tracks like Make It Easy and The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine, but, I also adored Lights Of Cincinnati and Montague Terrace. I also came across Scott Walker again when my appreciation of Marc Almond and Marc & The Mambas brought Jacques Brel to my attention, an artist that Scott had also covered several times.
So what of Bish Bosch? There have been many many reviews citing its genius – some of them disappearing up their own arses with their over zealous, long worded drivel. The bottom line is – is it any good? Well, that’s a subjective question. My answer would be that if you’re open-minded about music, and love music, and long for originality, and accept it for what it is, then the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.
How does Scott Walker sleep at night? He clearly doesn’t. From the opening looped percussive repetitiveness of first track See You Don’t Bump His Head you know this is an album that your Mother wouldn’t file next to No Regrets. “While plucking feathers from a swan song” is the line that’s frequently recited. The drum beat continues and continues up until the final beat when it almost distorts in its own loudness. Marvellous.
Corps De Blah seems to comprise of multiple tracks. It’s absolutely wild. The sound of a sampled dog or a sampled chimp or a finger running down a steamy window? Hissing. Breaking glass. Possibly even a fart. This is awesome stuff. Is it music, a collection of sounds, or, recorded insanity? I don’t really care. This is stretching music to the extreme and is enthralling and amazing. At times I’m not sure I can decipher everything Walker says in his nightmare. Sweeping violins. The trademark voice. Sometimes a random jumble of phrases and words, or poetry? There are as many questions posed as there are answered. I arrived at work as the track finished. I sneezed. It could have been included on the track.
A sweeping machete, Sioux Indians – I can see how people would find this album difficult to listen to, but, remain open-minded, and, take the album for what it is then this is an artist who is incredibly original and recording everything he is hearing and feeling and experiencing. If you can do that, you’ll enjoy the album.
The bizarrely titled SDSS14+13 (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitting) has a couple of lines of note – “If shit were music, you’d be a brass band”, and, “If brains were rain, you’d surely be a desert”. You can’t argue with lyrics like that! I find it quite difficult to believe that a track of almost 22 minutes, and, with as many different moments can be planned or recorded in one take. I’m thinking this was recorded and improvised as multiple tracks and then pieced and layered together afterwards. Co-producer Peter Walsh has had his hands full and deserves a medal. Is it fair to describe Bish Bosch as a modern day reply to Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral for its originality?
Epizootics! has fanfares and jazz overtones and is very cleverly put together. A racing bassline gels the track and I’m sure there’s a very deep meaningful story to the lyrics, but, I’d rather just immerse myself in the uniqueness of the track.
Never in a long time have I enjoyed an album quite so much as Bish Bosch. Truely original, and inventive. Possibly recorded by a genius, possibly recorded by a man on the edge. Possibly both.
As the final line of Dimple exclaims – “There but for the grace of God goes God”. I rest my case.
Published on Louder Than War 31/12/12 - http://louderthanwar.com/scott-walker-bish-bosch-album-review/