27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
'Tilt' is not the best place to start with Scott Walker- the Walker Brothers 'Best of's' and the 1-4 'Scott' LP's are...However, since 'Til the band comes in' he has been very hit and miss: the bits of 'Nite Flights' which he wrote ('Shutout', 'The Electrician', the title track) were awesome; the rest was dull. The rumoured Brian Eno & David Sylvian collaborations did not appear; 'The Climate of Hunter' did- which was o.k...After the 'Man from Reno' single came this album- which did get in the UK album charts- but was treated with critical derision, as it appeared unlistenable...A housemate of mine was initially disturbed by it- the locust sounds on 'Bouncer see Bouncer' or the moaning at the start of 'The Cockfighter' in that instance. After listening to it many times over three years (preferably in the dark)he now LOVES it!!!...The opening track, 'Farmer in the City' is an ode to the murdered film director/writer Pier Paolo Pasolini and is as good as 'old Scott' tracks such as 'Big Louise' or 'The Old Man's Back Again'...The production is fantastic- the only LP's of late to sound this good are 'Grace' by Jeff Buckley and 'Time Out of Mind' by Bob Dylan (the producers being Andy Wallace & Daniel Lanois)...'Bouncer see Bouncer' & 'Manhattan' are hard to get through but the rest is highly listenable. This record sounds otherwordly and really is ahead of its time...For me 'The Cockfighter' is the best song- parts are as 'industrial' as anything by ATR, Neaubauten or 'Nail' by Foetus (with which it shares dark themes of torture; think of 'Salo')...The songs aren't the overblown doomed romantic of yore- they are the logical progression from the torture dialogue of 'The Electrician'...Saying that, it's a very elliptical album- the lyrics are great but as baffling and exact as Samuel Beckett...One that everyone should own- any record that has Scott sounding so passionate when singing Adolf Eichmann quotations is just fine by me...Just a pity that 'Man from Reno' wasn't used as a reprise, after 'Rosary' (a few tracks date from 92, 'Reno' 90) but I'm only saying that cos it's not on a CD I have...If you like 'Bone Machine' by Tom Waits or 'Rope on Fire' by Morphine- this one's gonna blow you away...If you think it's terrible on first listen, really, you MUST try harder!!!!
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2002
Before buying this cd, the only Scott Walker album I had heard was Scott I, which I liked but it didn't bowl me over. Truly this album doesn't sound like anything you have heard before - it doesn't even sound like Scott Walker. It's like something from the 22nd century that has fallen through a worm hole in space to the present. The first time I listened to it I was stunned by its uncompromising sound and arrangements. Farmer in the City is the track that initially stands out most but on repeated listens the beauty of the other tracks gradually emerges. Look at the number of musicians who play on the album and the wide range of musical instruments they play, yet listen to the sparse if not Spartan quality of the songs - this has to be one of the most perfectly arranged and produced albums that I have ever heard. Some of the reactions it induces when you listen to it are almost visceral. Play it in a darkened room by yourself and you'll be fumbling for the light switch in a cold sweat. Some of its otherworldliness derives from the fact that so little of its influences are pop or rock. Modern classical music, particularly Stockhausen and the vocal and operatic work of Benjamin Britten, seemed to have played a part. As one of the other reviewers says, this is definitely not dinner party music or any other kind of background music. It's not catchy, traditional, verse chorus verse music either. Whatever it is, its brilliant. If you bought it, listened to it once and filed it away at the back of your record collection - get it out and play it again, at night when you're alone and to paraphrase Laura Nyro: let it devastate your soul!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2004
You have to have an open mind to sit through this album. It is very disturbing and I would not listen to this on my personal stereo late at night - I'd been too frightened.
Having said that, this is a work of such genius and beauty that, to me, it is like opera. Here is a man who can sing anything - and proves it on this album.
My advice to everyone who wants to know about this album, and wonders if there is anything similar to it, is to ignore all his early albums. I listened earlier to "Boy Child" - the compilation of Scott's music from 67 to 70. It's a magnificent collection from his first six albums, but this is nothing like that - the music on "Boy Child" and "Tilt" could not be further away from each other, they're light years apart.
To have any clue about what to expect musically and lyrically here, you might listen to the last Walker Brothers' album - "Nite Flights" - and Scott's previous release "Climate Of Hunter". Even then, you'll put this on your stereo and listen in wonderment and disbelief.
You can't categorise this music, you can't sing along to it - you just listen to it and marvel at its originality and its brilliance. The musicianship is magnificent and simple and the strings, in all of this albums oddness, stand out beautifully.
A disturbing work of genius. As others have said, you can't accuse of Scott Walker of selling out, of writing to get hit records.
The bad news is that there has been nothing from Scott since this album - 9 years of nothing, although I am ever optimistic that there is another album in him. The further bad news (for other writers, that is) is that most of them could not write material of this massive quality even in their dreams (or their nightmares).
This is immense in the extreme. A strange but glorious masterpiece.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An admission. I have never listened to Scott (nee Engel)
Walker's 1995 album 'Tilt' until this weekend. Other than
his fine early work with musical partners Gary Leeds and
John Maus and a passing interest in 1984's 'Climate Of Hunter'
this extraordinary album never quite hit my radar. I gave
2006's 'The Drift' short shrift. I didn't like it at all.
I still think it self-indulgent in the worst possible sense
but do realise that it is a project held in considerable esteem
by those who understand more about such things that I.
So, appraising 'Tilt' is both a backward step and a revelation.
The nine compositions in this collection could not be considered
easy-listening in any sense known to man but it is entirely right
that we should not be forever wrapped-up in the warm blanket of
anodyne pop culture. It's good to be challenged.
Having read a number of other personal accounts of listening to
the album I had expected to hear something with less shape and
form than I subsequently discovered.
The structure of a few of the arrangements is certainly a tad
elusive but with repeated encounters the compositional structures
reveal themselves with startling lucidity.
Mr Walker's voice is a marvelous instrument. His ability to
communicate complex emotional states places him amongst the
greatest vocal performers of the past half-century.
The rich, dark baritone possesses a curious vibrato at the
top end of his register which brings vivid expression to the
many twists and turns of this deeply atmospheric music.
There are so many riches here it's hard to know where to start.
The gospel undertow of "Bouncer See Bouncer...." is particularly
affecting. The hypnotic rhythmic pulse frames a vocal performance
of spare dramatic intensity.
Here and elsewhere the lyrical subject matter is ambiguous and
expressionistic. A luminous central interlude glows momentarily
with hope but the respite is short-lived. The desolate first
subject returns with disconcerting anvengence.
A consummately conceived spiritual for godless times.
The shimmering sonic inventions of 'Patriot (A Single)' keep
falling away into a very dark place. The tortured narrative seems
to be desperately searching for a more moderate self-view.It is
this contrast between stark isolation and a more expansive, redemptive
vision which gives the composition both its power and its magic.
Title track 'Tilt' is as close as things get to a verse/chorus
compositional format but Mr Walker cannot quite resist subverting
the rhythmic flow with a few moments of disconnected and fragmented
vocal mayhem just to keep us on our toes.
David Rhodes' blistering guitar solo is an unbridled force of
nature. Here and elsewhere John Gilbin (bass), Brian Gascoigne
(keyboards) and Ian Thomas (drums) bring this immensly complex
music to life with masterful aplomb.
Better late than never I have discovered 'Tilt'
to be a hugely rewarding listening experience.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2002
I'm enthralled by this magnificent CD. A masterpiece of contemporary music, totally unclassifiable, unique in its beauty and magic.
The intricacy of these compositions is astounding, with intriguing instrumentation, some lush, some loud/crashing, but all knit together with riveting drama and passion.
The meaning of the lyrics, or are they poems ?...or perhaps a script ?...are incomprehensible to me, but I "feel" them in the way that they are sung. Charged with emotion, his expressive voice conveys more than words could ever say. A dark inner/outer journey through his/our world of alienation.
This is challenging music. Scott said about this recording in an interview: "I worked hard on it and they (his listeners) should work at it as well. More and more I think there are people around who'll do that". So if you're willing to go down the path Scott made, put this CD on late at night, turn off the lights, and explore it...it's a wonderful voyage.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2003
What a tragedy it is that Scott Walker has produced such a small body of work, due largely, I suspect, to a combination of self-doubt and bad management. Still, what he has produced is of such concentrated excellence that you could dilute it 20 times over and it would still be outstanding in any company. This record goes further in the directions suggested by the excellent 'Climate of Hunter' - but this is even better! If you are the sort of listener who wants to 'understand all the words', then this is not for you. If you care about a great artist uncompromisingly delivering everything he has with unflinching honesty, then you must hear this.
I'm not going to attempt to describe it, you'll just have to listen to it. There has never been anything like it before, and probably never will be again. As Neil Young said about his songwriting "It's not a requirement for my songs to make sense... just that they give you a feeling... it's not about information". Hear hear! That's about all Neil & Scott have in common though.
I do get very specific feelings from the tracks on this, sometimes quite specific ideas and pictures. I don't know how they're created, and yours will probably be different. It is indeed quite a challenging and disturbing listen. This doesn't mean it is unpleasant to listen to, very far from it. It is wonderful musically, vocally and rhythmically as well as lyrically. No music lover should be without it. If this doesn't make your hair stand on end, you must be bald!
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2005
Though the Climate of Hunter showed Scott moving away from the traditional pop ballads for which he was most synonymous with from those first four, self-titled releases, nothing quite prepares you for the complete aural onslaught of troubling sounds and musical textures that we find on this dense and mysterious 1995 classic.
The music here is utterly terrifying, creating an intense and claustrophobic sound that works alongside the oblique lyrics to create a dark and troubling world that deals with fear, murder, terrorism, genocide, assassination and war. The songs aren't necessarily songs, but rather extended, hypnotic ruminations, with Scott merging a variety of styles and influences from classical works, to industrial rock, to ambient-alternative, even world music. The arrangement of the instrumentation is often minimal, growing from strange ambient sounds or atmospheric sound effects, building to a mid-song climax before verging off in a completely different direction for the middle-eight. As a listening experience its both infuriating and mesmerising, drawing us in through the sheer atmosphere and evocation of Walker's lyrics, though, at the same time, disarming us with those strange terrifying sounds and wild instrumental flourishes.
The opening track is gorgeous, acting the perfect introduction to the album by offering us a moment of sublime calm before the approaching storm. It's called Farmer in the City, though the subtitle alludes to the murder of celebrated Italian filmmaker Pier Paulo Passolini, who's film Salo depicts many images and scenarios that could have quite easily come from any of these lyrics. The sound of the song is stunning, with Walker's rich operatic vocals merging with the lush strings of the London Sinfonia, whilst the stark and poetic lyrics offer up images of dark farm houses against the sky and harnesses on the left nail. It's possibly the most beautiful and moving pieces of music created within the last half-century, and is a perfect way to ease us into the more abrasive music still to come.
The Cockfighter is much darker, starting with what sounds like background atmosphere from a middle-eastern mental institution (bringing to mind the dark atrocities committed against Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. soldiers) replete with pounding percussion and a half-whispered/half-moaned refrain... before the song erupts into life with a heavy industrial sound that brings to mind Nine Inch Nails. Once again, the lyrics are dark and seemingly cut-up, with Walker talking about "feathers on the sides of my fingers" before going on to quote from the trials of both Queen Caroline and Adolf Eichmann, which is most apparent in that haunting closing coda, which quotes "...it was the month of July, we had more going out, you were responsible for the rolling stock, I can only repeat, I never saw him in bed, do you know what happened to most of the children, she opened the tent, to take a morsel of air...", which brings to mind the holocaust and a film like The Sorrow and the Pity.
Bouncer See Bouncer is even more extreme, opening with what sounds like someone being electrocuted as part of an interrogation (though it could be the halo of locust as referenced in the later lyrics), building on top of a thumping and hypnotic piece of percussion, to which Walker moans (his deep baritone cracking on the high-notes) bizarre sketches of lyrics that don't seem to make a lot of sense, but yet, capture a feeling and an atmosphere that works well with this uncompromising music.
The rest of the album follows in a similar vein, building gradually to a piercing crescendo, with all manner of bizarre, dissonant instrumentation being layered alongside Walker's rasping, operatic croon, relating lyrics that don't seem to make sense until you study them on repeated listens. The music is always changing, often within the song, going from the kind of slow, mesmerising ambience of people like Eno and Badalamenti, to classical influences like Messiaen and Gorecki... whilst it also could be filed alongside other "difficult" rock albums like Laughing Stock, Metal Machine Music, Soundtracks for the Blind, Metal Box/Flowers of Romance and shares the similarly improvised feel of that self-titled Mark Hollis album. The closing run of songs, particularly Bolivia 95, Patriot (A Single) and the title-track continue the dark and abrasive meditations on the nature of war and desolation, whilst also quoting the refrain "the good news, you cannot refuse, the bad news... there is no news" alongside references to the Gulf War of the last decade, Bogart films and a number of references I'm not going to pretend I understand. The closing track Rosary takes us back to the bleak beauty of the opening Farmer and the City, featuring just walker accompanying himself on guitar and offering up lyrics that suggest something final ("we can save it, we can change it, put it in lines across the room, but we'll never stop it bristling... and I gott'a quit").
Tilt is an album that has taken many, many listens for me to fully appreciate, with the dense and claustrophobic feeling invoked through the music initially seeming quite alienating and off-putting. However, much perseverance and late-night listening sessions have changed my mind and it now stands as one of my very favourite albums.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Tilt is Scott Walker's only album release of the 1990s and is still awaiting a follow-up 9 years on. Happily for all Scott fans,however, Noel Scott Engel (as is his real name) has had a recent flurry of activity-soundtracking Pola X, producing Pulp's excellent We Love Life, releasing an effective 5-CD boxset (In 5 Easy Pieces) and then-praise be!-signing a brand new record deal with 4ad,and a new album is,finally, on the way.
It has to be said,however,that listening to Tilt,it is hard to imagine the person who made it making another record-it is EXTREMELY dark.It shares no sonic similarity to his previous releases (or anything else for that matter). His sumptuous singing fans are familiar to on The Walker Brothers' albums or his first few solo releases is instead replaced by a bizarre but strangely impressive operatic voice.The first song,Farmer In The City, is about the death of the film director Paolo Pasolini (120 Days Of Sodom)-and that is the closest Tilt comes to having conventional subject matter, although the cut-up lyrics are not always immediately understandable.It has to be stated,however, that Tilt is an endlessly fascinating LP which is essential.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
While Scott Walker had alluded to war before (The War is Over, The Plague), it became a dominant-theme around the four-tracks he wrote after six-years of writer's block for the final Walker Brothers album. The year zero was ultimately 'The Electrician', whose theme of torture would advance and recur on 1983's 'Climate of Hunter' and this follow-up from 1995.
'Tilt' is an album that takes no prisoners, a record that drifts deep into the avant-garde, seemingly influenced by Schoenberg, Messiaen, Einsturzende Neubauten, Gorecki, Glenn Branca it is far from the catchy pop of the Walker Brother. Despite many listeners/failed-listeners misgivings, 'Tilt' is an album that has been cited postively by David Bowie, Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Neil Finn & Paul Morley. I think it will be seen as a classic in years to come, and it made more sense when released on an indie-label in the U.S. than it did on a major label at the time of Britpop. 'Tilt' is an album I've played frequently- an album that generally drops any rock-angles, which Walker appeared to exhaust on several similar sounding & titled tracks on 'Climate...'- Tracks Five and Seven (& maybe three also!)
Walker's voice is more operatic than before, while the extreme-atmosphere aligns it to more extreme albums, such as Nico's 'The Marble Index', Talk Talk's 'Laughing Stock', John Cale's 'Music for a New Society' & David Sylvian's 'Blemish.' It's all a highlight, albeit an oblique one - I have no clue what Walker is singing about. But I have ideas...and in the scheme of things, it's still more 'Ulysses' than 'Finnegans Wake.' The themes of exile and torture found in 'The Electrician', and continued over several-'Climate- tracks are key here. The influence of Samuel Beckett, notably plays like 'Not I' & the trilogy of novels, seems apparent- or rather- Walker has the same oblique-exactness with a similar nightmareish quality...
It's all a highlight, but the ones I like the most are 'Farmer in the City (Remembering Pasolini)', which like Coil's 'Ostia' recalls the murdered auteur who made 'Salo.' This is a reworked version of Walker's 'Man from Reno'-single and feels like a cut-up-dream recollection after reading about Pasolini. 'The Cockfighter' is a complex, multi-part track that veers off into a sound like 'Dark Magus' played by Stravinsky, then into Neubauten-metal, strange moans & a touching part...which nods towards the Holocaust...
'Manhattan' reminds me of 'Before Night Falls' - a sense of tortured exiles in New York: "scalper in the lampglow...chief of police a la collar - bones connected...i tip to Bengal/i tip to Somal/i tip to Burmese..." The music is not merely avant-classical, and several-tracks have elements that take in world-music, whether whistles, Ba-Wu Flutes or chittaroni. 'Tilt' sounds immense...
The final four-tracks are as strong as the rest, 'Bolivia'95' offering up some stunning blues-based-guitar up; while 'Patriot (a single- at 7.58 minutes!)appears to nod to the Iraq War of the early 90s, 'ja'91/see how they run'- which must allude to the mass-murder on the Bazra-highway? The repeated 'chorus', "the good news you cannot refuse/the bad news is there is no news" remains hypnotic stuff - though I'm not sure what is meant by the allusions to Zeitung! The title-track is hypnotic trance-rock, the guitars veering off into the otherworldly- a missing link between "Heroes" and 'Hail to the Thief.' Finally, Walker plays guitar alone on 'Rosary', the adieu to the greatest album of the 1990s...
'Tilt' is an album that frequently finds itself at the top of any list of favourite albums I make (other titles include 'Sulk', 'The Marble Index', 'Pacific Ocean Blue', 'Closer' etc)& it still remains to be accorded the appreciation I think it warrants. Walker would follow this with the soundtrack to 'Pola X', a box-set of his past-work, and is apparently recording a new album for 4AD. Roll on 2009!!!!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Scott Walker's album of the 1990's has a first track to die for. One of the most moving pieces of music I've ever heard, `Farmer In the City` is better than anything Scott did in the 1960's. Having got that out of the way, as if to say `look what I CAN do`, the rest of the album moves off in more complex directions. Dealing with (among many other less discernible themes) casual torture, terrorism, drug addiction, crowd dynamics, and the European holocaust, this is not an album for dinner parties. Complex, musically rich, and often entirely incomprehensible you learn to take the music on its own terms. Each song has many different sections, with suddenly moments of beauty popping out when all seemed bleak. Just like life, really.