If you looked at a dictionary and looked up the word enigma, you'll probably find Scott Walker. Although such a word barely encompasses the man, a thesaurus would be more useful to attempt to describe the music he wrote over the course of five decades; the only constant being his dark gold voice flowing like bitter honey.
Already known for his work with the Walker Brothers, notably 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More', I first properly came across his solo work when someone sent me 'Tilt'. Full of lush orchestration and genuine crooning, that's about all it had in common with the Walker Brothers song I vaguely remembered, dark as an abyss and unapologetically, boldly unique. I remember thinking there was nothing else in the universe that could match it. I quickly acquired more and more. His first solo albums from the 60s followed, numbered and increasingly eccentric. Inspired by the French chanson tradition (indeed, spread among them were covers of Belgian legend Jacques Brel), he was lyrical and articulate, his delivery smooth like a velvet glove on a hand that reached deep into your soul. I needed more.
Then I got hold of 'The Drift', and I felt my own personal music landscape shift in a profound way. Darkness was not loud and fast. He mused on suffering, sex, life and death. Even the sound of crickets acquired a terrifying nightmarish quality over the running time which included tales of 'Clara' who would end her days strung up alongside her lover Mussolini, and where a percussionist grunted with effort as he punched a hanging side of beef. Where a donkey in the throes of orgasm punctuated lyrics like "I'LL PUNCH A DONKEY IN THE STREETS OF GALWAY!", and numerous other nightmarish noises.
And that's just on one album; nothing to say about his other works, all equally challenging, including a notable collaboration with SunnO))); a “what the fuck?!” moment even for both sets of fans. I'll be exploring them all again in the coming days, trying to find meaning in his work and explore the worlds he created, always pushing the boundaries right until the end.