Wednesday, January 16, 2008

30 Centuries of Scott Walker

A retrospective on a career that spans from being a lead singer for the Walker Brothers to “The Drift” album, will a documentary on Scott Walker’s creative process shed more light on his artistry?

By: Vanessa Uy

“Scott Walker: 30 Century Man” a “Rockumentary” released to whet the appetite of dedicated Scott Walker fans. Being young, I’ve only known Scott Walker’s circa 1960’s musical career with the Walker Brothers after seeing this documentary. I never knew that the Walker Brothers’ fame at the time rivaled that of The Beatles. Also, the deep baritone voiced Scott Walker was named as one of the most influential people of Rock music history and one of his famed admirers were David Bowie. Despite of this, Scott Walker is not exactly a household name in either Britain or America. But if you can manage to find a dedicated fan from both sides of the Atlantic (there are more of them than you think), you might gain a first-hand experience of what it means to be a dedicated Scott Walker fan.

After his success during the 1960’s, Scott Walker withdrew from the public limelight. Now 64 years old, Scott Walker still receive god-like devotion from his fans and most of them (even the under 35’s) claim that they stuck by him since the “Walker Brothers” days. “Scott Walker: 30 Century Man” is a documentary directed by Stephen Kijak documenting Scott Walker’s creative genius and his legacy with the attendant live performance footage from the 1960’s to the present. This documentary serves to spread awareness of Scott Walker’s works and even his existence (!) to the uninitiated.

In assessing the merits of “Scott Walker: 30 Century Man”, I also reevaluated my views on Scott Walker’s last two albums: “Tilt” and “The Drift”. I can say that Scott Walker is one of those gifted musicians who are terrified by fame even though he truly deserves praise for his talent. To me, Scott Walker probably single-handedly influenced the “anti-fashion” musical movement of the 1990’s with his Richard Wagner meets Heavy Metal style. After first hearing “Jesse” from Scott Walker’s “The Drift” album, my first impressions are- Did Scott Walker just invented a new genre of music? “Jesse” is a trippy sounding Oriental Modalism meets Guitar-Driven-Rock. This is a very radical departure from the sex-drugs-and-rock n’ roll that we have come to know and love of “conventional” Rock music. “Difficult avant- garde musician” is a description that comes to mind after hearing Scott Walker’s latest album. And the DVD of “Scott Walker: 30 Century Man” is also worth it because it caters to the uninitiated-and successfully-at that. Although the documentary raises more questions than answers about weather Rock music in its current format needs revision beyond its dogmatic “three chords and the truth” format.

If you like Keiji Haino or love those Miles Davis’ albums that are a tribute to the passing of Jimi Hendrix like “Bitches’ Brew” and “Agharta” then you will surely love this documentary and the attendant music. Scott Walker just reminded me why I love listening to music in the first place.

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