Scott Walker + Sunn O))) – Soused

This was never going to be easy. Two cowl-wearing experimentalists from the farthest reaches of metal, one former member of a sunshine pop quartet that was once bigger than the Beatles who has spent the past 30 years making some very difficult music.

Though the combination of venerable singer-songwriter and metal titans may at first recall Metallica and Lou Reed’s abysmal Lulu, this is a record of startling imagination that sees everybody involved pushing themselves far from their comfort zones, which were hardly comfortable to begin with. I won’t even try to describe it: there is literally no other record that sounds like Soused, not even the heavier moments of Walker’s Drift or the contemporary-classical passages on Sunn 0)))’s Monoliths & Dimensions. Not even those two records, masterpieces on their own, somehow spliced together.

It is fitting that the cover of Soused depicts a thermal vent in the deep ocean. These boiling, toxic environments are fertile and in many ways beautiful, but completely inhospitable. You can marvel that such things exist, but you’ll never visit one. The album itself is much the same. A single playthrough will confirm that two artistic powerhouses have come together to make something greater than the sum of their parts, something that is Art with a capital ‘A,’ but will you want to play it again? I doubt it. This is very much a record to own to position oneself as a patron of Serious (with a capital ‘S’) music. This isn’t to diminish the artists’ achievement, just to pose the question: why?