x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Scott Walker: Bish Bosch

Scott Walker is on the cusp of 70 - and still producing wildly challenging and exhilarating music.

Scott Walker

Bish Bosch

(4AD)

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Originality, so often the preserve of the young, still comes easily to Scott Walker. He'll be 70 next month but Bish Bosch finds him further along on the avant-garde path that he first took with 1995's Tilt. While his peers tour their greatest hits or play golf, Walker - the exquisite baritone behind such 1960s hits as Make It Easy On Yourself - has long since had it with pop, conventional song structure and sounds that fail to unnerve. One track on Bish Bosch, the 22-minute SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter), is an astonishing conflation of arcane lyrics, orchestral discord and Walker's ghoulish vocals. Elsewhere there is the sampled sound of machete blades being sharpened. Fans of Tilt and 2006's The Drift will know that late-period Walker can be immensely challenging. Listening to him sing in Danish or battling against an incongruous brass fanfare on the queasy, lurching Epizootics! it sometimes feels as though you are witnessing some art-project in-joke. Bish Bosch is an exhilarating ride, however, Walker's daring paying dividends after repeat plays.

* James McNair