This is The Dali Trauma speaking.
I am new to the Drunk in a Graveyard scene. Well, naturally I have
been drunk in graveyards before, I mean, haven’t we all at one time or
another in our lives? I mean, aren’t we all just drunk in one huge
graveyard? Waiting for the last call to ring and for our cabs to
arrive and take us home to eternity?
Anyway, that brings me to Soused, the highly anticipated collaboration
between Sunn O))) and Scott Walker.
I have been a fan of Sunn O))) since that fateful night when I thought
my next door neighbor was killing robot monsters with a lawnmower and
I’m well aware that Sunn O))) isn’t for everyone, and I will begin by
saying Soused isn’t necessarily going to win them any new adherents.
As for Scott Walker, I’ll admit that I was unfamiliar with his work
until I did some digging. His Wikipedia entry revealed the epic
journey from “light entertainment” crooner to pop star to avant-garde
composer and icon. I began to understand the impetuous for such a
Part of the beauty of Sunn O))) (in my estimation and experience) is
how they draw out variations of tone, feeling, and the suggestions of
ghostly melodies and harmonics through guitar feedback and drones, not
to mention the appearance of harmoniums, organs, percussion, human
voices here and there. Such additions are helpful in navigating the
dronevoids, but over the course of Soused, Walker is our guide,
holding a lantern, the robed figures of Anderson and O’Malley
following him through a hole in the chainlink. Walker, waving the
ghost light, imploring us like a madman over five tracks that play
like the soundtrack to a film that I doubt I would have the
constitution to watch.
“Brando” opens on an almost operatic note with strange guitar hero
wanks, but after Walker confesses that “it’s never enough…it’s never
enough…” the track becomes an oozing sludge punctuated with the
crack of bullwhips. “A beating would do me a world of good…” Walker
cries and moans while discordant horns rise and fall.
On the second track, “Herod 2014”, Walker laments a woman who has
“hidden her babies away…” over a backing that sounds like the
smoldering ruins of a city.
“Bull” rocks and thuds with a slow and deliberate groove. The second
half of the song implodes upon itself into a thorny wash of heavy
“Fetish” is a bass and shaker driven piece of industrial noise-blues
that would give Tom Waits pause. It mutates several times over the 9
minute run time. This is it now, we’ve followed this unholy trio into
the cemetery and now we are digging, elbow deep, in the dark earth.
The album closes with “Lullaby” featuring unwholesome invocations
“tonight my assistant will pass among you…hey nonny nonny…in vain,
I bind another foot…” before he shouts “Lullaby la la!!!” as
feedback and terror-sounds erupt like fire and smoke behind him.
At the end, I feel exhausted, almost relieved, it feels strangely
brief, but I don’t believe I would want to listen to this in bits and
pieces. One of the key strengths of Soused is how tightly constructed
and concise it feels when enjoyed in one go. I am looking forward to
the vinyl version so that I may play it on my hi-fi during cocktail
parties and watch my guests squirm.
I have to admit, when I first heard of this collaboration, I thought
about Lulu, the Lou Reed and Metallica turd bucket. It was a
compelling idea, but a spectacular failure. It was shamelessly
pretentious, empty and embarrassing. Soused succeeds where “Lulu”
failed. Instead of a creatively impotent band jamming on some warmed
over Lou Reed leftovers, Soused is a carefully crafted piece of dark
and unsettling art that bears the skilled marks of all involved. It is
a gorgeous addition to the oeuvre of Scott Walker, and a brave and
creative triumph by Sunn O))).
The Dali Trauma gives Soused 4.5 symbiotic death archetypes out of 5