Scott Walker. Enigmatic yet enduring. A few years ago I wrote an appreciation of his later albums- at that time there were only two but now there’s a trio- for a little magazine that folded. “No, but really!” I called it because most people’s first impression on hearing his work produced anytime since the 70’s is to enter skimming mode; the offending disc flies out the window…
He has a view of something which most BigShots who perform for anysize public refuse to allow themselves to believe. The audience is not passively listening: They are actively helping the artistes to create an impression together, even though there’s a gap of space or time. It works with recordings too given opportunity. Which pieces really affect you? Really really affect I mean?
The songs created in our modern digitally mastered recording idiom are incomplete without being appreciated, actively, by an aware audience. So much work is just superficial tosh. But it doesn’t have to be so. I think Scott uses the modern technology to break down barriers in space/time and harks back to troubadours even ancient bards and ashokhs. He’s a precursor for indicating where we might go as a race if we don’t submerge ourselves in slime or blow ourselves up.
I think Scott is taking a select few, those who actively engage with his panoply of created characters, always characters. He has people in situations being challenged, as we are challenged by the complex musical settings he so carefully works on, planning them for years. The whole comes complete, complete when the listener engages themself. We join with him in recreating the music which is so much more than merely aural sound.
Humanity is his canvas and he tries to communicate more than just sounds but a sort of panoptic view which understands a little: Why do humans behave the way they do? What drives evil acts, cruelty, even disenchantment with life itself? Deep questions which should by rights touch us all as being pertinent to our present world we live in with its inequality, wholesale misery and utter waste of all kinds of precious resources.