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Baker's Dozen

Burn Again: Lawrence English's Favourite Albums
Kate Hennessy , November 19th, 2015 10:52

After celebrating Room40's 15th birthday, the label head and ambient composer pauses in his hometown of Brisbane to go from Swans to Japanese court music in taking Kate Hennessy through his 13 "foundational" records


Scott Walker - Scott 2
Scott Walker is a beacon of hope for every musician interested in maintaining a deep sense of self across a lifetime of work. That's not to say Scott Walker hasn't fallen, at times, from the grace of truth-to-self, but he has matured into one of the most powerful and original voices in music today. Recent albums like The Drift and his Soused edition with Sunn O))) are spectacular experiments in colliding lyrics and music.

But Scott 2 is my choice here. It's one of the greatest pop albums made and I don't say this lightly. It's a spectacular exercise in production, arrangement, songwriting and performance. OK, it's a record of its time, but it spills at the edges into a timelessness that is perhaps about Walker's approach to song as a structure. Songs like this are rare and are a pleasurable reminder of why songs exist as an art form. 

When I listen to the sliding strings and plodding horns of 'The Amorous Humphrey Plugg' or the incredible rising line that opens 'Plastic Palace People', I am transported and when it finally falls into the chorus it's like magic. I really love the heavy stereo production on the record; there's this distance in the channels that's really something. 'Next' remains one of the bleakest songs I have heard. It's elegantly dark and tinged with a kind of pain that you just don't hear in song very often. Or perhaps often enough.