The singular Scott Walker – golden-haired, velvet-voiced band boy turned Brel torch song balladeer – has been reinvented as unsettling avant-garde sound artist, in a dream (or, perhaps, nightmarish) coupling with liminal, heavy metal, noise, drone duo Sunn O))).
The resulting album, ‘Soused’, is an incongruous and epic yet perfectly matched collision of uncompromising minds and considerable talent.
After a decade-long disappearing act, Walker returned to the musical fold with the release of three formidable albums: ‘Tilt’, ‘The Drift’ and ‘Bish Bosch’. These recordings surpassed mere relevance to achieve contemporary classic status almost immediately.
Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, meanwhile, are LA-based, cowl-wearing metal heads cum post-rock jazz aficionados, whose last album as Sunn O))), 2009’s ‘Monoliths & Dimensions’, featured a disconcerting cacophony of collaborations including modernist composers, former Sun Ra trombonist Julian Priester and the soprano of Jessika Kenney.
The percussive complexity and intangible quality of Walker’s recent output seems harmonious with Sunn O)))’s musical master plan to make colossal, molecule infiltrating, noise. Over the five expansive yet claustrophobically compact songs of ‘Soused’, Walker’s beady eye casts its light, mischievous, sharp and intimidatingly wise.
The result is an operetta of insistence and discordance, Walker’s opulent voice at its most melodic amidst a resonant unsettling bloom of Moog, brutalist bullwhip rhythms and crackling brass. Lyrics are abstract but vividly pictorial, akin to Michael Gira narrating an epic Dada/Fluxus poem in the guise of a biblical epic.
Latin lamentations and oscillating interferences spin sinful tales of transgression and violation, with a flagellating undercurrent of austerity, to create an uneasy, intuitive, idiosyncratic masterpiece.
Words: Anna Wilson
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