There are certain musical collaborations that seem to make absolutely no sense on the surface. Some of these said collaborations, once dug into, reveal themselves to be awkward and simply don’t work; others, like this collaboration between two of the ultimate portrayers of the avant-garde (albeit different shades), proves to be sensible and quite rewarding. It turns out that when Scott Walker and SunnO))) released this collaborative record in 2014, they would fare much better than Lou Reed and Metallica did a few years prior. The main reason for this is that the reference point that Walker and SunnO))) have to emphasize is much more potent and defined than that which Reed and Metallica had.
This record consists of five tracks, all of which are over eight minutes long and present an unavoidable landscape of doom and dread. There is no mentally or emotionally escaping the soundscapes that this record has to offer. This is a pure headtrip that will stick with you long after a single listen and it certainly isn’t a record for the lighthearted. Walker’s bizarre, pseudo-operatic vocals lend a great power to the menacing, foreboding inevitability of SunnO)))’s darkness. This merging is best evidenced in the opening track of the record, “Brando (Dwellers on the Bluff)”, where Walker’s vocal chords will send a chill down your spine that will make even the bravest listeners think twice about testing these uncharted waters. These waters are uncharted for an understandable reason; it’s highly unlikely that the unmitigated audacity of a project like this would ever succeed, especially to the degree that this does. The other tracks on the record, however, are difficult to mention on their own individual terms because of how easily they feel connected to the opener. Basically, this record feels like one very long song and this doesn’t always go over well. There are certain moments on this record where the uncharted waters go a little murky; a little too same-same. In the big picture, it’s difficult to hold either Walker or SunnO))) at fault for this. After all, pulling off a project of this magnitude isn’t an easy task (Again, Reed and Metallica found this out.) The truly magnificent aspect of this record is the simple fact that it is successful at all and this is what makes some of the more mundane moments of “Bull” or “Lullaby” more acceptable in the broader sense.
This record is quite unlike any other record that has ever been recorded. It’s a truly singular piece of music. Bringing together two acts as distinctive as Walker and SunnO))) is something that shouldn’t be able to work and yet, the presentation that accompanies them is just too alluring and mysterious to not work. As has already been mentioned, though, this isn’t music for the faint of heart. You definitely aren’t going to hear the average maid cleaning the house while blasting this record. This record taps into a very specific wavelength that, it goes without saying, not everybody is capable of tapping into. Why should they? Why would they? The darkness of this record is of a contemplative nature and certainly has the capabilities of pushing even the most seasoned of listeners willing to go the unrestricted route to the very limits of their minds. This is precisely what makes this daring project such an accomplishment, even at its lesser moments.