The Mark of Excellence

Scott Walker

Bish Bosch

By Vincent PollardBuilding upon his groundbreaking last two albums, Bish Bosch is Scott Walker's (aka Noel Scott Engel) latest aural descent into the abyss. The album takes its name from a pun on the British expression "bish bosh," a slang term for something completed quickly and often without due care, a knowingly ironic nod to the fact this is only Walker's third solo album in close to two decades. The Bosch in the title presumably refers to medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch ― and not the popular brand of power tools ― whose chaotic paintings of hellish torture are a fitting visual match for Walker's dark, often historical themes. Like its 1995 and 2006 predecessors, Bish Bosch is conceptual and experimental in nature, making for some seriously uneasy listening. Walker continues the same filmic and intellectual references that featured prominently on The Drift and although the songwriting may not be quite as strong, it isn't far off. Tonally and lyrically, Walker is still bang-on, blending that dramatic, industrial, Foley-driven horror movie soundtrack with his inimitable, mock-operatic vocals. At turns terrifying, confounding and darkly amusing ("Corps De Blah" contains fart sounds followed by the bewildering lyric, "We'd slosh, we'd slide, we'd cling, 'round a Kellogg's floor"), the tension never lets up, even during 22-minute centrepiece "SDSS14+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)." Try discussing that song title down at the pub! "The Day the 'Conducător' Died (An Xmas Song)" closes the album, continuing Walker's thematic obsession with communist dictatorships that began in 1969 with "The Old Man's Back Again" (from his acclaimed Scott 4 album), but this time focusing on Romanian autocrat Nicolae Ceaușescu. Scott Walker is one of the true geniuses of modern music and the treasures are as rich as ever for those prepared to go the distance. Fans of his work over the past two decades are already well acquainted with just how far that is.
(4AD)

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