Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, but definitely for me, 16 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Bish Bosch (Audio CD)
First, let's deal with what this record is not.
Scott Walker has not spontaneously reverted to the singer songwriter of Big Louise and its ilk, sorry.
He has been ploughing his own, lonely furrow for thirty years now with little concern for anything as approachable as The World's Strongest Man or for the many people who for some mad reason appear to express anger at his obstinate refusal to pander to fans of his 60s output.

I guess it's time to call those folks to order - only one person gets to choose what he does, and it ain't you or me.

In fact, I would always recommend trying before you buy to anyone thinking of checking out Tilt, The Drift or Bish Bosch. It's a world away from who he was, and possibly several worlds away from any comparable figure around today.

The first thing to note about his late period work is that it is designed around serving the lyric. It is common in pop music for a melody to have a lyric bolted to it, but here nothing is important but the lyrical content - style serves content, sounds serve content and melody (or lack of same) serves this, also. While the lyrics veer very close to self parodying pretentiousness at times, it is clear from several listens (for those who possess the stamina for such an endeavour) that just like on The Drift, in his rampant poetic excesses he is messing with us (Donald Duck was a major clue). Unlike The Drift, however, he times his punchlines a lot better on this record and seems less consumed with a bottomless bleakness at the same time.

I don't think I will ever forget the moment the rhythmic joke is on the listener during "Phrasing", or the jester being heckled by silence and firing back a selection of stand up comics' stock comebacks in response at the start of "Zercon", or the sudden appearance of the most mournful Christmas carol performance I have ever heard. These moments are the results of a synthesis of music, arrangement, lyric, timing and tone - to force a craftsman of Walker's calibre into writing a catchy melody when he want you to FEEL the appropriate thing rather than simply listen to him singing about it, would be an injustice.

I also wanted to address the accusations that his voice sounds bad on this record - it just plain doesn't. At 69 his voice has come on in leaps and bounds in this register, and certainly during Dimple or Corps De Blah he hits some classic notes with real feeling and tone - it seems that his insistence on stretching for the note has actually had the effect of increasing his range, rather than causing him damage.

So to whether I think people should buy the album - selfishly I have to say that it is important to me that he continues working and some level of financial success would be great for him and hopefully mean the wait for another record is half a decade again rather than the full ten years. So yes, on that level you should buy it.
Of course, from a less selfish point of view I would have to qualify this - if you hate Tilt and The Drift, there is absolutely no point in buying this. If you love Walker's latest stuff then you have probably already got it in some form or another. The undecideds (and I doubt there are many) on his recent material may find this a lot less bleak than The Drift and as a result may buy into it a bit more.

In short, don't judge this album for what it isn't. If you love it or hate it, let that be because of the content and not because Scott Walker isn't writing soul crushing ballads any more. As for me? I absolutely love it - it is probably my favourite of the modern trilogy.

P.S. I can heartily recommend getting the print copy of the album. The lyrics book is the only reason I really "got" ...conducator's multiple choice nature.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Feb 2013 08:22:48 GMT
G. Tritton says:
I love this record (and all his stuff from Climate of Hunter onwards), but I'm not sure about your emphasis on the lyrics.
While there are clues in the lyrics book, you have been able to interpret them much more than I can.
But does it matter ?
As David Bowie says on the 30 Century Man DVD (which by the way is excellent) - "I have no idea what he's singing about. I never bothered to find out and I'm not really interested. I'm quite happy to take the songs that he sings and make something of them myself and I read my own reasoning into the images and all that".
Scott himself makes a comment that suggests that is his intention.
Either way, a brilliant album.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Feb 2013 12:21:57 GMT
L. Turner says:
I have the book of lyrics and it just makes me feel really stupid because i still haven't a clue whats going on!

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Nov 2013 01:00:10 GMT
Algo Kaufman says:
I disagree - he starts with the lyrics and works from there. Has said so in many interviews.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Nov 2013 01:08:31 GMT
Algo Kaufman says:
I'm not claiming to have some deep insight you are missing, by the way, I simply think the words are more foundational to the record than musical considerations.

Posted on 16 Aug 2014 15:32:54 BDT
Have to agree about the voice. It does some strange things (only 1 or 2 times) throughout the record where I realised i hadn't heard him sing like that ever. The "Ingen ingenting" thing on "Dimple" jumps to mind.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Aug 2014 21:25:13 BDT
Algo Kaufman says:
Absolutely, Mr Ennis. He absolutely nails a lot of that track.
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