9/10 Mike Staff review, 29 November 2012
Experimental pop godfather and widely acknowledged “godlike genius” Scott Walker is back with only his fourth proper solo album since the Walker Brothers disbanded in 1978, and first in six years. I’m afraid that I’m reviewing this “Norman-style”, which basically means one listen and some hastily concocted first impressions, so I shan’t be able to dissect it as much as I’d like to, but I’ll try my best nonetheless.
It opens with the dinky Suicide-esque repeato drum machine minimalism of ‘See You Don’t Bump His Head’, with distinctive Walker’s vocal theatrics exhorting “While plucking feathers from a swan song/Shit might pretzel Christ’s intestines”, and then we spend the next 60-plus minutes getting sucked into his swirling vortex of sparse songmanship, jazzy flourishes and weird noises (particularly enjoying the knife-sharpening rhythms in ‘Tar’), with bursts of lavishly arranged and more accessible respite of which second track ‘Corps De Blah’ is the most immediately obvious example.
Lyrically he’s still sticking to his trademark cryptic cut-and-paste style, with the album’s 21-minute centrepiece ‘SDSS 1416+13B’ taking up a full eight pages in the booklet! It’s fairly challenging stuff, as you’d expect from Walker, but I’m not finding it as heavy-going as I’d feared and none of it really seems like a chore to listen to although as you would expect it is quite dark and even oppressively claustrophobic at times...although the album does surprisingly close with a quick burst of the melody from ‘Jingle Bells’ on xylophone.
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