Sonic Reducer: Micro Reviews Of Scott Walker, Crystal Castles And The Bryan Ferry Orchestra

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When ’60s pop star Scott Walker emerged from a period of solitude in the ’80s with Climate of the Hunter, it became crystal-clear that he is an aural alchemist. This reviewer only discovered Walker’s brilliant solo work after stumbling across his 2006 opus, The Drift. Once you’ve heard meat-punching used as percussion, your perspective changes. His releases are methodically envisioned and synthesized. Bish Bosch, referencing Hieronymus Bosch and the term “bitch,” finds him ardently delivering surrealist lyrics in his unmistakable baritone and embracing harsh electronics, noise and obscure, dark themes. The intensity of emotion and cognition required by this album isn’t for everyone. But, if you’re a fan of the 30th century man, it’s an absolute must.

Crystal Castles III (Universal Republic)

This third studio outing touches on governmental, religious and social oppression, but that ominous foundation doesn’t make it any less pleasant a listening experience. The Canadian duo embraces wilding bass and terrorist synth. The resulting sonic manifesto inspires visions of a bomb-shelter culture revival and slinking across a post-apocalyptic landscape in your most adorably tattered club threads. Kudos to Crystal Castles for mixing up their perfectly serviceable sound with a little entropy and decay. Standout tracks include “Plague” and “Wrath of God.”

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra The Jazz Age (BMG)

Upon first learning of the concept for this release, I was skeptical. Now that I’ve actually heard it, I’m convinced the album was a misstep. The fact that it’s an all-instrumental revisioning of classic Roxy Music tunes in the styles of the jazz age and Dixieland may sound intriguing, but its execution falls flat. This conceptual release by Bryan Ferry and a cadre of ridiculously talented musicians is an utter waste of time. Without Ferry’s vocals, these compositions bear little resemblance to their inspiration. Maybe that was his intent, but it doesn’t make for an inspired listen. If your curiosity gets the best of you, check out “Love is the Drug” before committing to the work in toto.

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