scott

The surprise announcement of this collaboration was mouth-wateringly tantalising. Attempting to guess what Scott Walker will do next is futile – this very announcement only served to cement that with a dumper truck full of concrete – while Sun O)))’s reign as a shape-shifting avant-garde powerhouse with a propensity for innards-molesting creations is well-established to say the least. The potential for this record to smash through barriers and rocket through the ceiling of oddness instantly became a palpable possibility. However, what thuds home from the opening glass-shatter shrieks of Walker and the earth-splitting bass cracks of Sunn O))) is just how wonderfully, perfectly natural this collaboration feels. This is not two divergent extremes butting antlered heads, it’s not them throwing grenades into the tar pit and it’s not a ‘reveal the curtain and step into our shrine to the abnormal’. ‘Soused’ is a record made by artists astutely aware of the impact of their own sonic extremities, who have subsequently gone about making a record that creates ample space for one another to work around.

Walker sounds electric on the opening ‘Brando’, like an operatic hyena howling into the pitch black of the night on the edge of a mountaintop, whilst Sun O))) ring out perhaps the most melodic guitar line of their careers – terror-instilling, dissonant melody of course. The sheer physicality of the record is immense and often washes over you with powerful, immersive force.

On ‘The Drift’ Walker pounded rare slabs of meat with his fist, on ‘Bish Bosch’ he scraped and sparked machetes like the hungry wolf ready to tuck in; on ‘Soused’ he utilises a bullwhip to impart menacing winces, striking unremittingly like a punishing ringmaster. Walker’s recent records (greatly aided by co-producer Peter Walsh) have sounded miraculously like full, coherent works with the construction still visibly taking place: people still knocking in leftover nails with hammers, tightening screws with drills whizzing and whirling. It is the work in progress of a Foley artist yet also the finished score of the composer – the contrasting two seamlessly melded as one.

This seeming affinity for surface noise and the joys of loose rattles, squeaks and hisses fuses devilishly with Sun O)))’s deeply textural approach and together the album screeches around between early industrial brute clanks and horror-flick intensity before disappearing into dark ambient sink-holes and then re-emerging into the individualistic, esoteric and starkly original sound this collaboration has bore.

Walker’s lyrical explorations, whilst often succinct and punchy, are also vast and mysterious and, as always, the inflections and accentuations of his vocal delivery are pinnacle to the project – darting between swift, acidic bursts and yelps to lingering, echoing churns.

The more you pry open the guts of this record and stick your head in amongst the bloody entrails, the more of a marvel you realise it is. Collaborations like this are of course rare; even rarer though is them occurring at precisely the stage in which both artists careers have naturally arrived at a creative point where they can both extract, and inspire, the best out of the situation, and one another. ‘Soused’ is an inciting, persistently challenging piece of work in which its sheer existence is riveting enough, but where its final outcome and mastered execution is truly astonishing.

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