ON THIS DATE (17 YEARS AGO)
May 8, 1995 – Scott Walker: Tilt is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# allmusic 4.5/5
Tilt is the twelfth studio album by the American solo artist Scott Walker. It was released on 8 May 1995 and reached number 27 on the UK albums chart. No singles were released from the album. It was Walker’s first studio album in eleven years.
Walker composed the songs for the album between 1991 and 1992 except “Manhattan” which was written in 1987 and the final song “Rosary” which was composed in 1993. The album was recorded at RAK Recording Studios and Townhouse Studios in the UK and its release had been expected as early as 1992 but was not completed until 1995.
Perhaps not even Scott Walker truly understands this record, which isn’t to say that it it’s not one of the most ambitious and ultimately rewarding musical experiences of the last few years; it’s just that exactly what Walker was thinking when he made TILT remains a mystery to this day. Even Brian Eno, a huge Walker fan and no stranger to the avant-garde, apparently had to walk away from the sessions early on in the recording.
Longtime Scott Walker fans shouldn’t expect either the Brechtian song-stories of his solo material, or his Spector-influenced work with The Walker Brothers. TILT is the sound of a man swallowed whole by the music industry. Unidentifiable noises pop in and out of the mix as Walker’s voice, a beautiful baritone almost unequaled in pop, floats ethereally around, at times seemingly diving deep into an undersea echo chamber. The lyrics are more haiku than iambic pentameter and those expecting a chorus (much less a verse), will be severely disappointed. Whatever TILT is, it’s unlike anything you have ever heard.
The artwork for the album was designed by Stylorouge with photography and image manipulation of Walker’s hand by David Scheinmann from a concept by Walker.
by Dave Thompson, allmusic
Tilt was Scott Walker’s first album following over a decade of silence, and whatever else he may have done during his exile, brightening his musical horizon was not on the agenda. Indescribably barren and unutterably bleak, Tilt is the wind that buffets the gothic cathedrals of everyone’s favorite nightmares. The opening “Farmer in the City” sets the pace, a cinematic sweep that somehow maintains a melody beneath the unrelenting melodrama of Walker’s most grotesque vocal ever. Seemingly undecided whether he’s recording an opera or simply haunting one, Walker doesn’t so much perform as project his lyrics, hurling them into the alternating maelstroms and moods that careen behind him. The effect is unsettling, to put it mildly. At the time of its release, reviews were undecided whether to praise or pillory Walker for making an album so utterly divorced from even the outer limits of rock reality, an indecision only compounded by its occasional (and bloody-mindedly deceptive) lurches towards modern sensibilities. “The Cockfighter” is underpinned by an intensity that is almost industrial in its range and raucousness, while “Bouncer See Bouncer” would have quite a catchy chorus if anybody else had gotten their hands on it. Here, however, it is highlighted by an Eno-esque esotericism and the chatter of tiny locusts. The crowning irony, however, is “The Patriot (A Single),” seven minutes of unrelenting funeral dirge over which Walker infuses even the most innocuous lyric (“I brought nylons from New York”) with indescribable pain and suffering. Tilt is not an easy album to love; it’s not even that easy to listen to. First impressions place it on a plateau somewhere between Nico’s Marble Index and Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music — before long, familiarity and the elitist chattering of so many well-heeled admirers rendered both albums mere forerunners to some future shift in mainstream taste. And maybe that is the fate awaiting Tilt, although one does wonder precisely what monsters could rise from soil so belligerently barren. Even Metal Machine Music could be whistled, after all.
All songs written and composed by N. S. Engel (Scott Walker).
No. Title Length
1. “Farmer in the City (Remembering Pasolini)” 6:38
2. “The Cockfighter” 6:01
3. “Bouncer See Bouncer…” 8:50
4. “Manhattan” 6:05
5. “Face on Breast” 5:15
6. “Bolivia ’95” 7:44
7. “Patriot (a single)” 8:28
8. “Tilt” 5:13
9. “Rosary” 2:41