Scott Walker – Bish Bosch

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I like the jackhammering drums of “’See That You Don’t Bump His Head’”; I like whatever’s making that squishy sound at the 2:18 through to 2:50 of “SDSS14+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter),” that, in combination with the bass and alarm, sounds genuinely nightmarish; I like when Scott Walker finally stops his drab drawl at the 6:45 mark of the same song (“DID YOU EVER THROW YOUR OWN MOTHER’S FOOD BACK AT HER?!@”); I like the bellowing tubax (the bastard child of a tuba and saxophone), the horn fanfare, the skittering drums and the sudden ukulele ditty of “Epizootics!”; I like the backing vocals of “Dimple”; I like the clashing machetes of “Tar”; I like “Pilgrim” because it’s blissfully short; I like the sleighbells at the end of “The Day the ‘Conducator’ Died” which is a really optimistic sound after the dictator’s been shot to pieces. On the other hand, I’m less in love with when Scott Walker unleashes a series of farts on “Corps de Blah.” (Is that what counts for humour these days?) And regardless of whether or not I like the music, I’m painfully aware that nothing else is happening, and that the long songs aren’t so much songs as they are tiny ideas stitched together. Bish bosch, indeed.

Lyrically? This is Theatre of the Absurd for people who have never seen/read Theatre of the Absurd. But even if Bish Bosch were performed on stage like Scott Walker so obviously wants it to – it would fail. He gets the language right, he gets the pauses right, he just forgets the whole point of it all andwhat we’re left with is absurdity for absurdity’s sake. Though Samuel Beckett – the Godfather of the genre – explored similar concepts of the decay of the body and language, Beckett also exploredhumanity. Maybe all of this (gestures around) is just repetition until the day we die, maybe God(ot) is never going to come, but at least we have each other, y’know? There is no humanity here. There’s just flatulence.

EDIT (January 16, 2017): if you want this sort of experimental music by a former pop musician, you really owe it to yourself to see what David Sylvian did in the 2000s, to say nothing of his more conventional art pop records.

D

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