Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007 in Review: The “Scott Walker Can Do No Wrong” Award

This award, given to anything Scott Walker ever releases, goes to:

And Who Shall Go to the Ball? And Who Shall Go to the Ball?
Scott Walker
4 A.D.

Given a 40+ year career of being known as primarily a singer, it seems odd that Scott Walker would release an album without any vocals. But then, it’s Scott Walker. The man has long since transcended “odd.” It was composed as a score for a dance company, one which I presume must be well into the realm of avant-garde. There are large spaces in each of the four movements presented here, gaps where no sound dares to tread. When it does, it’s often just to punctuate the silence. When Walker released The Drift last year, he said he was experimenting with "blocks of sound," where he would take dense groups of instruments or song elements and slam them up against each other. And Who Shall Go to the Ball? is an extension of that: it often sounds like he's written a completely different orchestral piece, but recorded each instrument and part separately, and then composed this one out of samples he took out of the other. But it is well composed: each part starts sparingly and comes to its own climax and resolution, and the first three parts build into a very dramatic climax in the fourth. For any fan of challenging music, this is an album you need to get, you need to listen to from start to finish, and you need to do it alone in the dark.

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