Entertainment Magazine

Scott Walker – Bish Bosch

Posted on the 12 December 2012 by Audiocred @audiocred

For one reason or another I end up reviewing many of the weirdest things to come across the Audiocred desk. This week is no exception. Scott Walker’s Bish Bosch is deeply and unrepentantly strange.

Scott Walker Bish Bosch e1355193666715 Scott Walker   Bish Bosch
Walker’s vocals are the narrow path the album treads, his operatic tenor focused, deliberate, the only consistent presence on Bosch. The lyrics are not so much confusing as they are indecipherable or opaquely symbolic; there is violence and tenderness and confusion and what feels like a bottomless well of angst. Walker is unafraid to use words that few will recognize (“mahout”?) which makes his singing deeply abstract – this is counterbalanced by the reverb-heavy center-stage mixing treatment applied to his voice, a choice so direct as to make the listener sit around wondering where he went when he’s not singing. Until, of course, you hear what he’s saying: “No more dragging this wormy anus / round on shag piles of Persian to Thrace.” Ah, yes, we all know what a pain that is.

The instrumental work, which feels equally deliberate, is far from focused or consistent. Parts have the fractured space-rock feel of of Beefheart or Zappa; other parts have these sort of X-Files-y rubato sections that you would expect to hear in, uh, an actual opera. (Possibly this one.) There are long stretches of silence, Walker’s voice echoing out over nothing. The instrumentals feel as if they’ve grown out of – literally sprouted from, like gnarled old tree roots or psychedelic moss or something – the vocals. It’s often unsettling or disturbing or surprising, but weirdly that’s part of its charm.

Bish Bosch raises an interesting question, though, about ways of listening to music. Though I did not enjoy listening to it much, if at all, it ought to be clear from the first moments of the record that every instant was carefully calculated. I seem to be writing a lot about alien logic recently and if ever there was a record that evidences it, it’s Bish Bosch. Walker’s compositions are sculptural, spatial – the least the listener can do is take it seriously. Even if you (or I) can’t follow along, it seems only fair to wonder if that’s a shortcoming of ours, not the author’s. But what do you do with that? Where do you put it?

I don’t know. Listen, maybe, and enjoy the ride. Let it challenge you a little bit. Maybe you’ll learn something. Or maybe you’ll get to “… I’ve severed my reeking gonads / And fed them to your shrunken face…” and just sort of yeah I’m done here.

 Scott Walker   Bish Bosch

Spaghetti Toothpaste / Bandanna Landmark bars

Bish Bosch – “See You Don’t Bump His Head”
Bish Bosch – “See You Don’t Bump His Head”

Bish Bosch – “Pilgrim”
Bish Bosch – “Pilgrim”

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