Boomkat Product Review:
Coming just a year after Scott Walker reaffirmed his genius with The Drift, this release must surely be considered as something of a surprise: last time around we had to wait a full decade between LPs. Perhaps inevitably, "And Who Shall Go To The Ball?" can't quite be categorized as an album as such, it instead documents a twenty-five minute cycle of works for the CandoCo. dance company, as commissioned by London's South Bank Centre. Upon being given the music, choreographer Rafael Bonachela set about assembling a production featuring both able-bodied and disabled dancers. Apparently for Walker these instrumental pieces were intended to reflect "how we cut up the world around us as a consequence of the shape of our bodies". Accordingly, the music is subject to abrupt changes, punctuated by discord and barbed staccato passages. After an opening sequence that has more to do with absence than any great density of sound (the first five minutes or so establishing an aura of ominous, silent dread before jagged strings erupt cantankerously with scratchy bow strokes and unfinished-sounding phrasing), the second section is far more full-blooded, lurching around with thrusting bass jabs, offset by wild, chaotic horns and torrid percussion. This movement winds down into a pensive third act, filled with slowed down, sinister intervals subjected to sporadic interjections of atonal chord swells. There's a persistently awkward quality to these works that makes them all the more satisfying, avoiding any ornamental, or excessively pretty qualities. The fourth and final movement only consolidates that with its anarchic use of both rhythm and harmony, convulsing in pangs of dissonance throughout, often punctuated by clanging metal percussion and a few electronic treatments. It's only in the final two minutes that the incessant jutting and jolting comes to a halt, the piece instead morphing into an intense drone sequence with a few arcs of melody struggling to escape the ultimately ineluctable gravity of the thing. Righteously heavy going throughout, this is a necessary antidote to the usual pseudo-modern composition fluff you get from lesser artists dabbling in the field of commissioned work.