Scott Walker – Bish Bosch (4AD)
CD / LP / DL
Critically acclaimed as an album, and artist, of genius Scott Walker’s Bish Bosch oozes originality. Listen with an open mind.
Yoko Ono, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson â barmy or genius?Â Or both? Â Whatever, Scott Walker fits into the same category.Â My opinion?Â A free thinker, a lone spirit, a true original.
I was born after the Walker Brothers had called it a day, but, somehow somewhere I latched onto them.Â As a teenager I loved the obvious tracks like Make It Easy and The Sun Ainât Gonna Shine, but, I also adored Lights Of Cincinnati and Montague Terrace.Â I also came across Scott Walker again when my appreciation of Marc Almond and Marc & The Mambas brought Jacques Brel to my attention, an artist that Scott had also covered several times.
So what of Bish Bosch? Â There have been many many reviews citing its genius â some of them disappearing up their own arses with their over-zealous, long-worded drivel.Â The bottom line is â is it any good?Â Well, thatâs a subjective question.Â My answer would be that if youâre open-minded about music, and love music, and long for originality, and accept it for what it is, then the answer is a resoundingÂ âYesâ.
How does Scott Walker sleep at night?Â He clearly doesnât.Â From the opening looped percussive repetitiveness of first track See You Donât Bump His Head you know this is an album that your mother wouldnât file next to No Regrets.Â âWhile plucking feathers from a swan songâ is the line thatâs frequently recited.Â The drum beat continues and continues up until the final beat when it almost distorts in its own loudness.Â Marvellous.
Corps De Blah seems to comprise of multiple tracks.Â Itâs absolutely wild.Â The sound of a sampled dog or a sampled chimp or a finger running down a steamy window?Â Hissing.Â Breaking glass.Â Possibly even a fart.Â This is awesome stuff.Â Is it music, a collection of sounds, or, recorded insanity?Â I donât really care.Â This is stretching music to the extreme and is enthralling and amazing.Â At times Iâm not sure I can decipher everything Walker says in his nightmare.Â Sweeping violins.Â The trademark voice.Â Sometimes a random jumble of phrases and words, or poetry?Â There are as many questions posed as there are answered.Â I arrived at work as the track finished.Â I sneezed.Â It could have been included on the track.
A sweeping machete, Sioux Indians â I can see how people would find this album difficult to listen to, but, remain open-minded, and, take the album for what it is then this is an artist who is incredibly original and recording everything he is hearing and feeling and experiencing.Â If you can do that, youâll enjoy the album.
The bizarrely titled SDSS14+13 (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitting) has a couple of lines of note â âIf shit were music, youâd be a brass bandâ, and, âIf brains were rain, youâd surely be a desertâ.Â You canât argue with lyrics like that!Â I find it quite difficult to believe that a track of almost 22 minutes, and, with as many different moments can be planned or recorded in one take.Â Iâm thinking this was recorded and improvised as multiple tracks and then pieced and layered together afterwards.Â Co-producer Peter Walsh has had his hands full and deserves a medal.Â Is it fair to describe Bish Bosch as a modern day reply to Nine Inch Nailsâ The Downward Spiral for its originality?
Epizootics! has fanfares and jazz overtones and is very cleverly put together.Â A racing bassline gels the track and Iâm sure thereâs a very deep meaningful story to the lyrics, but, Iâd rather just immerse myself in the uniqueness of the track.
Not in a long time have I enjoyed an album quite so much as Bish Bosch.Â Truely original, and inventive.Â Possibly recorded by a genius, possibly recorded by a man on the edge.Â Possibly both.
As the final line of Dimple exclaims â âThere but for the grace of God goes Godâ.Â I rest my case.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. You can read more from Paul on LTW here.