Scott Walker is set to release a new LP entitled “Bish Bosch” on December 4. Walker began work on the album in 2009 when he was recording music for ROH 2′s Duet For One Voice ballet, choreographed by Aletta Collins. It’s being described as a ”tauter but more colorful experience than The Drift, with greater emphasis on processed, abrasive guitars, digital keyboards and thick silences.”
“I was thinking about making the title refer to a mythological, all-encompassing, giant woman artist,” says Walker. As to the music itself, it’s clear he’s just as exacting and cerebral as always.
“It’s moving on a bit each time we go. Hopefully it’s getting nearer and nearer the kind of thing that’s in our heads,” Walker says. “Little things are improving, a bit more focused. The style is improving.”
“Bish Bosch” was recorded in Denmark, the Alps, Hawaii, the ancient landscapes of Scythia, Greece and Rome, and Romania, and involves “time-travelling jump-cuts… sulfurous farts… and metaphors from medical science and molecular biology that seize you by the throat.”
“If I use the big orchestra I’m using it for noises or textures, or big pillars of sound, rather than arrangements,” Walker explains. “What we did was record the drums, bass, percussion, strings and vocals in digital and analogue simultaneously. Because we knew there were a lot of silences in it, especially in something like ‘Zercon’. And in the endings – the ending of ‘Tar’, where you don’t know what’s going on. So in those spots we just cut off the analogue, and where we had the silences we just used the digital. And then we turned on the analogue again when everyone was playing together. Everything was recorded that way, so it’s about eighty per cent analogue.”
Want a specific taste of what Walker is up to? Look no further than the LP’s centerpiece, “SDSS1416 + 13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter).” It refers to two interstellar brown dwarves, and Attila the Hun’s court jester. But let’s have Walker himself do the talking.
“I was interested in this thing about someone trying to escape his situation – in this case Attila’s wooden palace, which he regards as an immense toilet – and achieve a kind of spiritual sovereignty, and a height beyond calculation. As the song moves forward he imagines himself at different stages of height: he imagines first that he escapes and finds himself surrounded by eagles; then there’s the mention of St Simon on his pillar; then he jumps to 1930s America where it’s become a flagpole-sitter…’ Flagpole-sitting – trying to spend several days alone on a platform at the top of a pole – achieved a brief craze status in the 30s.
At the end of the song he eventually becomes a Brown Dwarf, known as SDSS1416. As with the majority of my songs, it ends in failure, Like a brown dwarf, he freezes to death.”
For more of Walker’s Joycean ideas, head over to 4AD for the full rundown. And listen to Walker’s “It’s Raining Today” if you want to hear how damned good he can be.