Seventeen years ago I put on Scott Walker’s album Tilt for the first time; the real-life Phantom of the Opera began to sing as I watched a storm overtake a city center, from my picture window halfway up a hill. Seventeen years later and many miles away I put on Scott Walker’s new album and it’s raining again. It’s raining in Scott Walker’s world, period. Though you can sometimes find a ruined lichened church for shivering shelter.
“It’s Raining Today,” Scott warned us in one of his early solo songs. That was before he’d perfected (t)his new internal universe. He was brilliant at orchestral pop but that didn’t stop him. His destinations remain obscure. He’s just there. Like the Joker. Like the Phantom of the Opera.
2006’s The Drift turned around Tilt’s two-parts orchestral to one-part industrial; Bosch turns back to Tilt proportions and that ticket wins in my book. You’ll hear a lot about Walker’s lyrics; I’ll stick with a sampler from “Corps De Blah”: “Boiling owls shriek/ Arab window flayed/ Cadenzas.”
Music? Orchestral pop meets industrial, sure, fine. But, as my friendly sage Rufus puts it, “Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy meets Blue Hawaii.” With a ukulele. With horns. With doo-wop finger snaps. It all rolls perfectly organic, though. Provided that you remember Walker’s from another planet. His organics. So, Walker could be for goths, could be for industrial-heads, could be for people who like strings, but everyone has to put up with the otherness of the summing-up. The Phantom. Alone. Home? Where? In this rain?
- Album: Bish Bosch
- Artist: Scott Walker
- Label: 4AD
- Songs: (1) See You Don’t Bump His Head (2) Corps De Blah (3) Phrasing (4) SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, a Flagpole Sitter) (5) Epizootics! (6) Dimple (7) Tar (8) Pilgrim (9) The Day the Conducator Died