Scott Walker was once a member of the Walker Brothers, a British group the achieved a modicum of success during the ‘60s as a teen idol group. However, growing tired of his pop group status, Walker (born Noël Scott Engel) struck out on his own and recorded a series of albums that became progressively less successful commercially. In the meantime, he became an influence for a wide range of artists, from David Bowie to Dead Can Dance’s Brendan Perry.
I previously reviewed Tilt, a dark and obtuse recording that featured Walker’s ghostly vocals over harrowing soundscapes and arrangements. Scott 4 is much more accessible and listenable. It’s not as experimental as Tilt but still sounds much more modern and current than most releases you might hear from 1969. Setting the stage for artists like The Tindersticks and Nick Cave, the album weds poetic, intelligent lyrics and lush arrangements. At times it may seem a little artistically pretentious, but the end result is quite intoxicating.
The strongest track is the opener “The Seventh Seal.” Inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s gorgeous film, the music summarizes the film’s epic storyline as a Morricone-esque ballad. The lovely “Boy Child” puts Walker’s vocals over soaring string arrangements and atmospherics that sound like a precursor to Tilt’s gentler moments and “Hero of the War” has a streak of black humor that fans of Dr. Strangelove will probably appreciate.