Monday 3 November 2014

Review of 'Soused' by Scott Walker & Sunn O)))

There are some people who understand the appeal of drone metal and good for them, they’re clearly more open-minded than I am. Personally, Sunn O)))’s schtick - playing one guitar note over and over again at a glacial speed – strikes me as a waste of a fretboard and a waste of my time.

Fortunately, this is not solely a Sunn record. Unexpectedly, the hooded drone metallers have decided to team up with 71-year old sixties-baroque-pop-turned-avante-garde singer, Scott Walker.

Those who know of Scott will know that he’s been a steadily-evolving nutcase. His last record Bish Bosch had some charmingly absurd lyrics on it, and this record isn’t far off, ‘leaping like a river dancer’s nuts’ serving as an example of this. The most poignant change vocally seems to be a bigger emphasis on sounding dark. Scott’s crooning sounds more suspenseful than ever on Soused and there are some choruses (if you can call them that) that come across as chillingly sinister stuff rather than gallows humour: ‘a beating would do me a world of good’.

To give some credit to Sunn where it’s due, this new darker sound that Scott is showing is partly down to the instrumentation backing him up. The band’s sound may be dull, but it’s a grey-cloud-kind-of-dull rather than full on blank-canvas-boring. In other words, their music creates a great dismal atmosphere. What’s missing is simply a bit of colour, a bit of variation. The first track, Brando, is the only one that manages this. The soaring, bright ‘white-Missouri’ section and plummeting, black drone riff make for a thrilling engaging contrast in moods.