Scott Walker - Bish Bosch

Unsurprisingly, the music is just as dramatic as Walker’s themes.

Scott Walker’s releases have always had an elaborate and dramatic persona. 2006’s ‘The Drift’ was a fine example of this: many critics likening its melodrama and surreal commentary to a disturbing play/film.

So consider ‘Bish Bosch’, his first album for just over half a decade, an equally abstract, if not more, disturbing horror story. First of all, the title refers to, according to Walker, “Mythological, all-encompassing, giant woman artists.” And like ‘The Drift,’ most of its lyrical themes flow with a strong sense of symbolism. The twenty-minute epic ‘SDSS1416 + 13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)’, for example, manages to mesh together narratives involving celestial bodies and Attila the Hun’s jester. Elsewhere Walker references the execution of ex Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu (‘The Day The ‘Conducator’ Died (An Xmas Song)’ and the hiding place for Nazi war criminals (‘Corps De Blah’)).

Unsurprisingly, the music is just as dramatic as Walker’s themes. ‘See You Don’t Bump His Head’ is an unsettling number as chaotic, distorted guitars disturb a motoric of repetitive percussion. ‘Epizootics!’ is a deranged ritual filled with a sinister fog, detuned instruments and seemingly random horn sections. And further on, ‘Tar’ is enough is the most troubling yet: blades sweep menacingly at the start as Walker croons sorrowfully about the most unsettling subjects (“She holds a baby made of towels all up her head”).

Most may need to give ‘Bish Bosch’ a few listens to truly get into it. But given time and patience, it will eventually unravel into a truly gripping that, although disturbing, is worth every minute of your time.

Tags: Scott Walker, Reviews, Album Reviews

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