The first sound you hear on Scott Walker’s new album, for several disorienting seconds, is a clipped percussion sample that sounds not unlike a skipping CD. The former U.K. teen idol, who long ago remade himself as a willfully challenging avant-garde avatar, returns on December 4 with Bish Bosch, his first album since 2006’s brutalist masterpiece The Drift. Spotify is already streaming Bish Bosch‘s forbiddingly minimalist opening track, “‘See You Don’t Bump His Head'” ” (via Consequence of Sound), and now Walker has revealed an unsettling video for 10-minute hobo-boho leviathan “Epizootics!”, the audio of which is also on Spotify.
Directed by Sigur Rós visual collaborator Olivier Groulx, the monochromatic video appears to take a puckishly skewed view of various images from the song’s dense lyrics, starting with the opening line about being “frightened by Hawaiians.” A hula dancer with a weirdly fixed grin waves her arms too slowly, a couple in billowing clothes shimmies too joyfully, petals (we think?) fall onto shoes like blood must’ve dripped onto the kicks on Sleigh Bells’ Reign of Terror cover art, a hog’s head is a hog’s head, a bug crawls over a belly button. The music swerves from discordant beat-poet shuffle to horn-blasting fanfares to ambient drones to finger-snapping TV on the Radio cyber-barbershop to ukulele serenade. Tiny Tim’s tulips — or Eddie Vedder’s! — these are not.
Watch the video above, and listen to “‘See You Don’t Bump His Head'” below. As Walker croons about “a mythic instance of erotic impulse” and “an incontinent” right before some harsh guitar stabs, picture Lou Reed silently cursing public indifference to his Metallica team-up, 2011’s much-maligned Lulu. Hold onto your legs and tits:
Bish Bosch track list:
1. “‘See You Don’t Bump His Head'”
2. “Corps De Blah”
4. “SDSS14+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)”
9. “The Day the ‘Conducator’ Died (An Xmas Song)”