Want some music to scare the bejesus out of the trick or treaters this Halloween? Of course you do. Well, do I ever have the album for the job. And heck, you might even find it haunting your own nightmares.
It’s an artistic collaboration fated to take place, as no doubt foretold on an ancient scroll buried in some subterranean sarcophagus. Providing the instrumental juice is Sunn O))) (pronouced “Sun”), a Seattle outfit specializing in a sub-sub-sub-genre known as “doom drone.” As you could guess from its name, doom drone is not big on songs about bunny rabbits and butterflies. Earthquake-producing bass drones, unearthly howls, cracking bull whips, yes. Cute critters, not so much.
What vocalist could possibly stand up to such an onslaught? Why, Scott Walker, of course. Owner of one of pop music’s smoothest baritones, as well as one of pop’s oddest careers, the 71-year old Walker long ago metamorphosed from hit-maker (e.g., “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” with The Walker Brothers — who, it is obligatory to point out, were neither Walkers nor brothers) to auteur of, depending on one’s tolerance for such things, either profound explorations of the dark nights of the soul, or unendurable spewings of meaningless ooga-booga. Remember the musical version of Faust that the Jack Buchanan character devises in the Fred Astaire film of “The Band Wagon?” Walker’s music has about as much uplift.
I will admit to not having made it even one time through Walker’s latest couple of albums, “The Drift” and “Bish Bosch.” I’m not getting paid for this, you know. But this current album, “Soused,” has me in its grip and won’t let go. Oh sure, one still has to endure Walker’s sober intoning of such deathless phrases as “Tonight…my assistant will hear the canals of Mars…His cap will be empty…Hey non-e non-e.” And that’s in number called “Lullaby,” if you can imagine.
But don’t just imagine. Try it. If you hear what I hear, you’ll have an album that, if you lower your critical shields and don’t take it too seriously, is creepy, crawly, compulsively listenable fun! A regular Vienna Philharmonic of metallic sludge (I mean that as compliment), Sunn O))) provides the perfect backdrop to Walker’s histrionics. And darned if he doesn’t sound like he believes every word, whether about Brando getting beat up, a modern King Herod or acne on a leper. I’m not making this up.
So…go ahead, my dearies. It won’t hurt a bit. Happy Halloween!