Friday, May 26, 2006

This is How You Disappear...

To paraphrase John Lydon; This is not a pop song.
It's a strange journey indeed: Scott Engel (Walker) travels from being one third of vocal greatness and middle of the road trio the Walker Brothers in the mid-sixties; via deep flirtation with the songs of Jacques Brel, warned off recording his own songs after Scott 4 to this – an atmospheric and poetic masterpiece; something to stand out there on its own; a singularity.
The Walker Brothers white soul was the sort of stuff your mother would find acceptable, and might even hum along to. Make It Easy on Yourself. Fantastic voices to be sure, but only pop music in the end.
Putting aside his covers of many Brel's songs (great voice, but primarily great because these are Brel songs) Engel's solo career as Scott Walker goes off into dark and sketchily charted territory, he takes his beautiful voice, rich as polished wood; on great heart-and-mind wrenching forays into fear and loathing; drama and the theatre of melancholia - from re-telling The Seventh Seal to heartbreaking Plastic Palace People.
But it's all a bit forced, a bit self-conscious; a thoughtful man struggling to find his voice.
In 1984 he deals Climate of Hunter from the bottom of the deck.
Ironically this is probably his lowest selling album, but since when was that a measure of greatness? Climate of Hunter drives a scalpel into tissue so deep and haunting as to raise the hair on the back of your neck. Indescribable songpoems with spiralling soundtracks littered with erratic cowbells and expanding cruscendoes that lead ever inward to a place where words take on a deeper reality.

From the host of latecomers
a miracle enters the street
shining with rain
he is shaking to wash the murder away

You don't get to this kind of destination just from watching new wave cinema or dabbling in chemical splendour. You don't make friends in the music industry (then or now) by walking this close to the abyss.
His voice is no longer what drives the music; he is detached from the content; he has disappeared, out between midnight.

A low volume force feed
lower than pity
slips across under the heart
and your hostage rewinding
from every eclipse
rolls in the voltage run-off rain on his lips

Scott Walker releases The Drift, his third album in thirty years, this month.

More detail and a rare interview with the elusive man can be found in the Independant

1 comment:

jams o donnell said...

Thanks for this post Pisces. I know his Jacques Brel covers. I like to listen to them side by side with Marc Almond's own Brel covers albums, quite a contrast in approach.

I am not familiar with his other solo works. I must check them out