Review Summary: "Soused: to immerse; to attack."
The idea of having a drone band and a ‘baroque pop master-turned experimental man’ group up once was thought to be impossible, incredibly ridiculous and implausible. Yet, this sturdy boundary has been finally, at last, rightfully broken by the most absurd match made in the deepest recesses of hell. ”Soused”
, the collaborative album between Seattle-based drone duo Sunn O))) and Scott Walker was a work in progress since 2009, when the duo approached Walker to sing on a track for their album, ”Monoliths and Dimensions”
. To no avail, he was unable to participate due to a conflicted schedule. Eventually, Walker approached the band with material he had written with them in mind, after he had taken great interest in their work. Known to never back down from experimenting with new ideas, Walker went right to Sunn O))) to make what is possibly the most interesting, and freshest album of the year.
honestly, shouldn’t work at all. Not in the slightest bit, with the operatic baritone of Walker, and the crushing guitar/feedback combo of Sunn O))) that once notably caused a photographer’s camera to explode at a live show. Astonishingly, it all comes together neatly. ’Brando’
entices the listener with a nearly-vibrant , but detailed introduction, laden with textured synthesized strings beneath the powerful operatic voice of Walker. Yet, the typical Sunn O))) immediately comes forward to compliment the sadomasochistic lyric of the track. “A beating would do me a world of good” is notable, repeated by Walker several times. ’Brando’
lures the listener in, only to subject them to the cracking of a bull whip, along with an oddly fetishized lyric; introducing a feeling of dread to the listener. ’Bull’
, ’Herod 2014’
, and ’Fetish’
all bring something new to the table, introducing somewhat refreshing ideas to the drone genre. On the album, there are underlying themes that add an dark atmosphere, with ’Herod 2014’
being the prime example. Including subjects of infanticide, painters from France, and other oddities (like the reciting of bus routes), the track relies on repetition. Here, it is a blaring cry from a saxophone (where on ’Brando’
, it was a whip). Throughout ”Soused”
, there are several moments of quiet semblance, letting the composition breathe. This only eases you, as the listener, back into the dirge-like noise that this collaboration has whipped up; this also serves as the biggest flaw in ”Soused”
. The constant repetition amongst the bravado of Walker gets exhausted after a while, and the deafening noise is irritating at some moments. Said flaws, however, are a minority in this album.
, to put it straight, has absolutely no business being a legitimately good album. It is far better than it needs to even be; it shouldn’t work in the slightest bit, but it goes above and beyond and excels all expectations. As it is defined in any normal dictionary, the listener becomes immersed in the sounds being emitted by this trio. It also means to pounce on, to attack; a sonic attack on the senses is present here as well, adding to the immersion. ”Soused”
is an effort by two polar opposites of the musical spectrum, an album created by the most absurd matchup possibly known to man. Absurd as it is, it succeeds in its intention; and for that, it is definitely one of the most innovative albums to be released this year.