Tuesday, January 09, 2007

DBCV14: Scott Walker

Scott Walker is an American singer/songwriter who has been making dark, tortured, brilliant music since the 60s. Years ago, I was given a mix tape of his work by someone who worked at Amoeba Records and it changed my life.

Walker has avoided fame and keeps to himself. He is a loner who makes music he believes in outside the limited confines of the music industry. He has lived in England for much of his adult life and he has experienced his fair share of suffering.

Walker's own original songs of this period (late 60s) are a late, last flowering of a dark Romanticism tinged with Surrealism and Existential angst. They are influenced by Brel and in some inchoate way, the writing of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus and early twentieth century European thought, poetry, art and music (despite the fact that by then Existentialism was waning as a philosophical and literary fashion).

Walker explored European musical roots while paradoxically expressing his own American experience and alienation. He was also inching to a new maturity as a recording artist. This would bear incredible fruit with his marvellous country recordings in the early seventies. - Wikipedia

Walker, who is 63, has one of the greatest voices in pop history, and in his younger days, when he battled orchestras as part of the sixties pop group the Walker Brothers, he was not afraid to use it. What he has lost—not much—in fullness over the years, he has more than compensated for by developing a unique, quasi-operatic style. He will twist a word, and a line, inside out, stretching vowels, leaving syllables to die in the air, gliding imperceptibly up and down his register. It is theatrical, designed to wring shades of meaning from diamond-hard lyric fragments. And also purely musical—if meaning remains elusive, and it often does, well, confusion still sounds gorgeous.

If it is rare to find artists working at their creative peak into their sixties, it is rarer still to find one releasing his most radical work yet. The Drift is Walker’s first album in ten years and third in 30, after 1984’s Climate of Hunter and 1995’s Tilt. It will be followed by a documentary, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, in which everyone from Radiohead to Brian Eno lines up to sing his praises. This extraordinary trilogy exists entirely in Walker’s own, self-invented musical world, and it is not an easy world to enter. The music is dark, velvety, and almost motionless, yet full of tension. Sometimes, it sounds like an aria; at others, like industrial noise.

- The New York Times, Ben Williams

And did I forget to mention, he looks super hot in tight jeans! Also, he seems to have a love for this one red scarf that he wears in almost every picture taken in the 60s. Hmmm.

Here is a vlog I did on him for the January episode of The Deadbeat Club:

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