Scott Walker: Bish Bosch

Reclusive cult crooner returns with avant-rock opus.

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The cultish reverence around Scott Walker has not made his last 20 years of ear-buggering, meat-pummelling albums any more listenable. The former 1960s pop pin-up turned reclusive avant-garde composer’s first release in six years builds on the fusion of experimental musique concrète and abrasive electro-orchestral noise first heard on Tilt and The Drift.

In fact, if anything, it’s even more uncompromisingly extreme. And yet, perversely, Bish Bosch is also Walker’s richest and most fiercely beautiful work for decades. The musical palette is broad and bold, from walloping industrial techno like See You Don’t Bump His Head to the machete-sharpening horror-movie slither of Tar and the warped swing-jazz symphony of Epizootics!

As well as marathon tapestries of dense poetry, cinematic allusions and ancient historical episodes, Walker’s lyrics are also savagely scatological in places. References to a ‘wormy anus’ and ‘reeking gonads’ pepper the snappily titled 21-minute mini-symphony SDSS 1416+13D (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter).

Even at 69, the Howard Hughes of avant-rock can still hold his own against younger generations of cutting-edge noise-manglers, from Nine Inch Nails to Radiohead to Factory Floor.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.