Monday, November 02, 2009

Scott Walker - Tilt

I generally think having some context is a good thing when listening to music: knowing who the artist is, when it was recorded, what the circumstances were... this usually provides some helpful perspective. But with Tilt, I think that gets in the way for a lot of people. In light of his highly successful (if often overlooked in hindsight) career as a pop star in the 60’s, the temptation is to look at Tilt almost as a cautionary tale, to listen to it only for the purpose of thinking, “what the hell happened to this guy?” But the fact of the matter is that Tilt stands better on its own -- it defies any interpretation based on the context of the world outside Scott Walker’s imagination, which has never made sense to the human race at large, regardless of what time period you’re talking about. Tilt is a masterpiece of isolation. Huge, alien sounds ring out in a massive empty space. Armies of percussionists pummel drums, and plenty of things that aren't drums. Walker had an orchestra on hand so he could take them to places that I don't think anyone is too emotionally comfortable with. And Walker’s warbling, menacing baritone floats above it all. It’s a whole world unto itself: it is dark, it is vast, and deserves to be explored at great length for those looking for an experience in composition far beyond the pop realm.

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