I came to Scott Walker (born Noel Scott Engel; January 9, 1943 – March 22, 2019) late, beginning with 1995’s Tilt. To say that Walker was a singular voice is to state the painfully obvious. To say that Walker touched the people who found his music involving is to understate the fact of the matter.
Scott Walker passed away earlier this week so there’s been lots of his music on the radio and lots of images and remembrances on social media. As I was driving home from an errand, not errant, run, WPRB played a track from Soused, Walker’s 2014 release with Sunn O))) which aslo happens to be one of my favorite albums. If you know the music of Sunn O))), then I don’t have to say heavy. If you don’t know the music of Sunn O))), then let me it’s heavy.
Here’s Walker from an interview in The Quietus on playing with Sunn O))):
But you can feel it right up through your knees, it’s such a weird thing. And funnily enough when I was standing right in the centre of it, it didn’t bother me but when you first go into the room it’s like entering a furnace… a furnace of sound.
When I got back to the Barn from my run, I doused myself in Soused and I suggest you do the same. Here’s what I wrote when this record first arrived:
Doom-laden guitars (turned up to 11), American bull whips cracking, while Walker sings “a beating would do me a world of good” on opener “Brando”, named after the actor who Walker noticed tended to get the crap kicked out of him in many a movie. This is musical theater to my ears and the play is dangerous, deadly, and demonic. This, in other words, is some heavy shit. Sunn O))) is Stephen O’Malley, Greg Anderson, and Tos Nieuwenhuizen who mainly plays lead guitar and together they create a dark and deep sound world for Walker to bellow within.
If this is too heavy for you, and you’re not familiar with the music of Scott Walker, please pick another place to begin. You could start at the beginning of his solo career with 1967’s Scott and work your way up. I’m a big fan of Tilt, perhaps because it was my first Walker, and the follow-up Drift. No matter where you begin, you will be richly rewarded with a singular voice who had important stories to tell.
Soused is available from the 4AD Store. Listen here: