26 January 2006

scott walker - "sleepwalkers woman" (from the climate of hunter lp, import available for preorder here.)

in brief : if you've slept on scott's post-scott 4 recordings, here's your wake-up call.

jarvis cocker, i've read, has written the liner notes to the reissue of climate of hunter, scott's only album of the 80's. one wonders if he'll include an admonishment familiar to pulp fans : please do not read the lyrics whilst listening to the recordings--which is not a knock on scott's lyrics just as it isn't a knock on jarvis's. i've always imagined that when scott wrote this song, he had coetzee's waiting for the barbarians on the nightstand, "sleepwalkers woman" something of a expressionistic retelling of the punishment that the novel's magistrate underwent. so, thematically, it's fascinating, not the usual domain of the pop singer, and scott's word choices, words w/ multiple meanings like "raw" and "fast," deepen the intrigue.

but once he begins to sing--no, not even that far in. as soon as the orchestration commences, like "boy child" but w/ more depth and complexity, words lose all meaning and the listener is instantly entranced. oh, but once he does begin to sing, you're unlikely to notice the presence of words as you fall under the sleepwalkers spell, so overwhelming is scott's tone. the feelings the record inspires are contradictory : one at once feels on the edge of sleep and yet at the same time one feels as if his or her eyes have never been so wide open. in other words, in roethke's words, one wakes to sleep and, on "sleepwalkers woman," the waking is slow, grand, and majestic.

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