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Over a deep, guttural roar comes the crack of a whip. A sharp, violent sound that in its own creation produces an echo, an audible after-image, as a result of the whip crossing the sound barrier. That cracking, a lightening flash of violence that's deeply linked with slavery, sadism and sex, is a sonic boom that Scott Walker and Sunn O))) have created as the single musical focus point for much of 'Brando', the opening track to Soused. Those antagonistic, growling guitars and bass that serve as backing rise up from the floor boards, like the devil himself is trying to drown you. They surround you, suffocating and consuming yet all the while that whip crack sounds out. 'Brando' is violence and oppression rendered as sound.

Yet there is a moment, right at the start of the album, where we're almost tricked into thinking this is a completely different work. Grand, melodramatic guitar and keyboard chords chime out, reverberating around Walker's voice as he yearns for the "wide Missouri". There's an almost stadium-rock tone to it and it is in it's own way terrifying. For in that briefest of moments, there is the sense that we're about to witness the unravelling of two legendary and wildly innovative acts due to a disastrously misguided collaboration. It's the one time the album veers towards the "epic", something Walker was keen to avoid during this collaboration. Whilst there is a touch of the majestic in those swirling atmospherics and soaring guitar line, it's completely out done by the thunderous guitars that follow.

Walker and Sunn O))) ratchet up the tension throughout 'Brando' until it finally unspools and returns to that melodramatic opening moment. Walker's vocals yearn throughout, mostly for punishment - the same punishment being meted out by that cracked whip. A screaming comes across the drone, whilst Walker's plea of "a beating would do me the world of good" is followed by an excitable, echoing percussion making it unclear whether the tension is from a fear of violence or a sexual thrill.

Walker has stated that 'Brando' is somewhat inspired by what he saw as a common trend of Marlon Brando being beaten up in many of his films. That's certainly one interpretation, but history has shown that Walker, a reclusive and enigmatic figure, is one whose lyrics are thick with symbolism and obfuscation. Vocals are always the first thing that Walker creates for his songs - reading through the lyrics for the album is like engaging with abstract poetry. Even without the drone of Sunn O))) they remain evocative on their own. On a few occasions Soused brings this into clear focus by setting Walker's vocal against little to no backing.

This is utilised to great effect in the final third of 'Herod 2014' where Scott Walker, assuming the role of a figure haunting and terrorising a woman - a figure that may in fact be an amalgamation of the several perceived threats to her children - talks of his endless search for them. "I've come searching / from far and away" he croons over the sound of a whistling wind. As he continues the icily cold wind is replaced by a shimmering synthesiser sound before the drone of Sunn O))) returns once more.

Here Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley's guitars are like terrible machines of war, carving a way through the city as air-raid sirens call out and search lights cast long ominous shadows. Walker stands at the front, a figure conducting the search through rubble and fog so thick that it dims the lights and turns all of the figures into nightmarish shadows. 'Herod 2014' is where the collaboration between these two artists shows what they are truly capable of in a huge, impressionistic collision of narrative and noise.

Sunn O))) initially approached Scott Walker to appear on their 2009 record Monoliths & Dimensions. Walker was unavailable at the time, yet his influence on that record was clear as Anderson and O'Malley bolstered their sound with strings, horns, woodwind and Hungarian vocalist Attila Csihar (presumably taking on Walker's role). Listening back to tracks like 'Big Church' and 'Alice', it's clear that these were the heavier cousins to tracks on Walker's The Drift.

For whatever reason, Walker waited until this year to finally collaborate with the band, in the meantime releasing the critically acclaimed Bish Bosch in 2012 and supposedly completing a trilogy of experimental records that started with Tilt in 1995. Soused however feels like the conclusion of a lifetime's work, a career progression that has taken an artist from a teen heart-throb, to a brooding, almost nihilistic icon, set against the melodrama of Spector's Wall of Sound to an avant-garde artist that toys with sound and silence to create evocative pieces that move and unsettle. All the while there has been this honing of sound, stripping away the elements album by album until Walker reached this point.

In the documentary 30th Century Man Walker describes The Drift as being "very stark." He continued by saying "what Pete [Walsh] and I do is keep refining that sound. We're now very set in that noise." Soused is the logical conclusion of that process. Walker has travelled from bombastic pop to a primal, animalistic endpoint that perfectly matches his abstract, nightmarish lyrics. Drone was always Walker's destination.

Sunn O))) are the perfect band to complement Walker. Regardless of the fact Anderson and O'Malley are huge fans of the singer, their approach to music (as evidenced on Monoliths & Dimensions) has always had an avant grade sensibility. They're also accomplished and deft collaborators having already released a well-received record with Norwegian act Ulver earlier this year (Terrestrials). Their drone is known for being a colossal, almost physical force of sound, but out of this wall of noise Anderson and O'Malley drag surprising melodiousness.

Closing track 'Lullaby' features these striking snatches of melody, falling guitar riffs and haunting detuned piano. 'Bull' meanwhile features a spine-tingling keyboard melody in its quieter moments, whilst the chorus features riffs approaching heavy metal, the kind of big scuzzy lines that stick in your head long after they've ended. This is something you might not usually expect from a drone act, but then as Scott Walker stated, Sunn O))) are "the kings of drone".

'Bull' is perhaps the most straight-forward track on the record. Unlike the other tracks on Soused it conforms far more neatly with the traditional verse-chorus paradigm. Its chorus refrain of "Bump the beaky" could even be considered a lyrical hook - something Walker hasn't really done since Scott 4. Of course, this in no way makes it a weak track, and it's certainly no less inventive than anything else on this record as Sunn O))) and Walker seemingly subvert the entire heavy metal genre. Sure, that chorus riff hits hard, but the majority of the verse is scored by a crackling electrical sound, like the jack of a guitar lead being suddenly pulled from an amp. Then there's that keyboard, an almost cabaret style tune that taunts the ears - does this sound conjure childhood fear to you?

That's before you then consider the other odd sounds collected within 'Bull'. Squealing trumpets that sound like a flurry of tortured birds appear in one chorus, whilst later another horn is introduced that sounds like the call of a lonely beast. Like many of the tracks on Soused, 'Bull' is thrilling, but you're never quite sure why. Is it fear, or something dark within you that you don't want to acknowledge? Walker often poses this question, notably on The Drift where he juxtaposed quiet and loud passages to unsettle the listener, whilst lyrically tackling subjects including torture, 9/11 and Elvis' still-born twin.

'Fetish' is probably the track which veers closest to that sense of unease. Opening with an atonal high-pitched metallic sound, Walker's voice is set against a sparse, industrial backing for almost three minutes. Occasionally lapsing into complete silence, those first three minutes are fraught with a brooding intensity, one that finally spills out into a flurry of squawking synthesisers. Silence falls once again when Walker laments "there's nothing else" providing a further link back to the opening track 'Brando' and the line "never enough, no never enough."

Of all of Soused's tracks, 'Fetish' is the one that seems the most chaotic. It constantly seems to be on a knife's edge, in threat of slipping one way or the other, or even being split into two. There's also a theatrical element to the song. The stabbing sound that accompanies the line "red blade points knife the air," or the saddened trumpets that occasionally sound out in the distance. It ultimately build to an intense, thrilling conclusion of whirring synthesisers, driving guitars and apocalyptic percussion. In amongst all this is Walker's obscene lyrics - as befits the title there are references to some depraved sexual predilections, delivered in his mournful baritone.

Scott Walker and Sunn O))) close out the album with 'Lullaby' - a nightmarish vision that threatens to haunt your nights. The verse is an introspective collection of quiet, clicking percussion, haunted keyboard notes and wailing guitars that scream in and out of view like portents of doom. The chorus meanwhile sets excerpts of William Byrd's poem 'My Sweet Little Darling' against a horrific, high pitched synth lead, slow guitar riffs and the same bird-like trumpets that appeared in 'Bull'.

The use of Byrd's poem stands in stark contrast to the musical accompaniment, but fits the old horror trope of using elements of childhood to increase the sense of threat and terror. This is then worked into further lyrics that mention an "assistant" who passes among ordinary people, "his cap will be empty" Walker notes, and seems to suggest that this figure isn't collecting money from those he passes but elements that make us human. As with most of Walker's lyrics the abstraction becomes another element of tension, as the message he transmits become fractured. For every lyric that recalls a human, relatable idea there is another that takes us into a more fantastical, sometimes unidentifiable realm. Take for instance the two lines in 'Lullaby' that mention actions completed in vain.

"In vain I bind another foot"

"I vain I douse another lamp"

The second lyric seems to clearly suggest a person fearful of what the night-time may bring as they extinguish the light and allow the darkness (and therefore the assistant) to creep into their house. The first lyric however comes from a source unknown. Are they binding their own feet, or that of their victim?

Soused is a complex record, both lyrically and musically. Walker and Pete Walsh are known for pushing their production work to the very limits. In an interview about the record, Walker talked about how they utilised the sound of a bell in 'Herod 2014' to symbolise the woman at the centre of the narrative and then worked at burying it under layers of drone until it was just audible. That bell plays through the entirety of the track, but it takes real effort to hear it most of the time.

The choice of working with Sunn O))) also helped to bolster the sound of the record. Anderson and O'Malley have proven time and again that they are capable of producing spectacular melodic moments in amongst the drone and Soused is no different. On first listen it might not seem that way, but as you repeat the experience, and as you allow the record to consume your thoughts just a little bit more you find yourself noticing the little details, like that bell, hidden within a great flood of noise and oppression and despair. Soused is mirror that reflects our innermost fears and frustrations, it is a monumental record for two extraordinary artists who understand the darkness of the human condition.

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