Manifold are the possible scenarios I foresee myself in at the age of 71.
Reading the complete works of James Ellroy in the cosy library of my thatch-roofed cottage overlooking Luskentyre beach, a glass of single malt whisky resting on a handmade occasional table by my side. Strolling up the 18th at the Old Course after a fine round under cobalt skies, a timid breeze whispering in off the North Sea. Adopting the lotus position and rocking to and fro in a straitjacket, cackling like a pantomime crone.
What I don’t predict is that I’ll be intoning the refrain “Bump the beaky” over a rhythm spelled out in whipcracks and a miasma of saturated guitar distortion manufactured by two long-haired, bearded dudes dressed entirely in black, the sole gatekeepers to an entirely new and diabolical level of subterranean frequencies.
This is but a snapshot of the milieu in which Scott Walker finds himself these days. The aforementioned “song”, Bull, is one of five tracks ranging in length from 8min 42sec to 11min 59sec that make up Soused, a collaboration with the US drone band Sunn O))) that arrived in the post this week. Easy listening it is not.
You might recall Walker from his spell in pop trio The Walker Brothers, none of whom bore that particular surname until dazzled by the bright lights of showbusiness. Or perhaps you know him from the first draft of his solo career, during which he brewed a gumbo of balladry, theatrical chanson and big-band standards.
In the 1960s and 1970s Walker committed to tape an astonishing number of essential songs, both covers and his own, including Lights Of Cincinnati, It’s Raining Today and Montague Terrace (In Blue).
Then Noel Scott Engel, to use his birth name, grew tired of the ephemeral pop universe and fell silent, publicly at least, until Climate Of Hunter, the 1984 album whose title hints at the restless questing that took root within and grew in the fertile soils of subsequent albums, from a sapling staring goggle-eyed at faraway clouds to its ultimate form of the towering tree that is Soused.
No matter how untelegraphed each stage of Walker’s recent career has been, however, few predicted his alliance with Sunn O))), a duo who essentially tune their guitars in the key of oblivion and plug into a wall of the loudest valve amps in the world.
The gospel according to Sunn O))) suggests: “Maximum volume yields maximum results.” So turn it up. It keeps you young.
Watch the trailer for Soused below.
Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.