Scott Walker
And Who Shall Go to the Ball?...



by perUmbram USER (21 Reviews)
October 30th, 2013 | 1 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A compelling piece of contemporary classical music which knows its modern classics.

This is going to be a short review, and that's because once again I'm not reviewing a pop album. I'm reviewing a piece of experimental ballet music by crooner-turned-experimentalist Scott Walker.

Somewhere in the nineties, Walker began drawing on a Xenakis- and Zimmerman-infused style which fused sparse rock elements with dense string sections and clanging percussion. "And Who Shall Go to the Ball? And What Shall Go to the Ball?" continues that vein, though this time around Walker's pleasant baritone isn't there to hurl ink-black and cynical visions of doom towards us.

This record starts off with a deep sub-bass movement interrupted from time to time by glitchy scratch-noises. This hovering sound continues for the entirety of the first movement, the scratch-noises later turning out to be cello snippets reminiscent of German expressionist music, never being anything but unfinished fragments.

The second movement is greater and more expressive. Still containing the deep sub-basses, the chamber-arrangement now is waltz-like and larger than life, as a freakish circus. Here we hear that Walker has developped a real tonal language on his own. There are obvious jazz-influences in here, but everything is distorted and plain gloomy throughout. It always sounds very contemporary because of the slick production and beautifully droning electronics throughout. This movement is interrupted by a very nicely mixed flutes-and-strings interlude which adds some Berg-style lyricism to the mix. Cluster chords, prolonged silences and coming and going of earlier elements conclude this second movement.

The third movement is deep, dark, glooming and a solo piece for the double bass. The haunting melody has a Bartók-like charm to it and is built up with thicker and louder layers of strings each time. At once terribly scary and fairy-tale like, this is a very well-done ensemble composition.

The fourth movement overflows a bit with ideas from an entire century of music. Everything is there: a dab of Penderecki-like clustres, Stockhausen noices and the beautiful elements we've heard earlier in the composition. This makes it very theatrical, and I would be thrilled to actually see this being danced to, but here it seems to lack cohesion as an autonomous composition. The elements are there, but it doesn't have the same high standard as the other three movements.

All in all, this is a gorgeous piece of modern classical music by a rock artist. And Walker being a rock artist, he seems to understand the essence of his music quite well: it's composed with a lot of feeling, not theoreticized to much and works quite immediately. Although the last act falters a bit, the composition is very compelling.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
October 31st 2013


I'm a big fan of Scott Walker, but I have yet to hear this. I'll look it up sometime and give it a listen.


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