sun 14/07/2024

CD: Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused

CD: Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused

One pair of hands is uppermost in this collaboration

Scott Walker + Sunn O)))'s 'Soused': deliberately ugly

As tough-going as expected, the eagerly anticipated collaboration between Scott Walker and deconstructed metallers Sunn O))) is 48 minutes of deliberately ugly darkness. On the opening track “Brando”, in his now-familiar strangulated tenor, Walker wails “a beating would do me a world of good.” He’s already punned “whip-poor-will” which was, with crushing inevitability, followed by the sound of an actual bullwhip.

All the while, Sunn O))) grind away, producing elongated slabs of unyielding noise.

Like Walker's last album, 2012’s Bish Bosch, Soused (as in saturated or drunk) is, sonically, a filmic collection. Each of Soused’s five pieces have vocals and instruments, but they also have a rich variety of other noises which could be bleeding through from on-screen action. Invariably, these are menacing: what sounds like an industrial saw on “Fetish”; a steady, torture-like drip-drip-drip on “Lullaby”. Lyrically, film is an inspiration too. “Brando” is Marlon, and his film Missouri Breaks is referenced. As on Bish Bosch, Walker makes links between disparate historic scenarios. “Herod 2014” mentions the Stasi, Rubens and Poussin, yet appears to be about a woman’s right to choose. But nothing on Soused is explicit apart from Walker's preoccupation with his original home country's native population.

Soused came about as a result of Walker fans Sunn O))) approaching him in 2008 to ask if he would sing on a track on their Monoliths & Dimensions album. He said no, but turned the tables in 2013 by suggesting they collaborate on something grander. Instead of just featuring Walker and Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson (supplemented by their guitarist Tos Nieuwenhuizen), Soused also employs various contributors on drums, keyboards, programming, saxophone, trumpet and vocals, as well as Walker’s regular studio foil Peter Walsh (the album was recorded in London). This, then, is Walker’s album – an impression reinforced by his recording  “Lullaby”, which he wrote for Ute Lemper in 2000. Ironically, considering its origination before Walker and Sunn O))) encountered each other, this is Soused's most coherent performance.

For Sunn O))), there was more breathing space on their recent collaboration with Ulver than on Soused. For Walker, after Bish Bosch, it’s what has become business as usual.        

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Scott Walker + Sunn O)))’s Soused


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