Scott Walker, the boundary-pushing artist who made his name as a member of ‘60s pop stars The Walker Brothers, has died. An announcement was shared by his record label, 4AD. He was 76.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Scott Walker,” said 4AD. “For half a century, the genius of the man born Noel Scott Engel has enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of The Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality. Scott Walker has been a unique and challenging titan at the forefront of British music: audacious and questioning, he has produced works that dare to explore human vulnerability and the godless darkness encircling it.”
Born Noel Scott Engel, Walker worked as a session bassist before recruiting John Maus and Gary Leeds to form The Walker Brothers, a Righteous Brothers-aping outfit that scored a number of chart-topping hits, including “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).” Once he went solo in the late ‘60s, Walker found inspiration in the music of Jacques Brel, working to subvert his brand of baroque pop to great success. His fourth album, 1969's Scott 4, unfortunately, was a commercial dud, leading him to try and recreate his early success with a reformed Walker Brothers.
In 1978, The Walker Brothers released Nite Flights, which featured four Walker originals that still resound to this day. “These songs were evidently the true Walker, emerging after a long dormancy, and even now, his Nite Flights tracks burn with such creative fire that they don’t sound dated (as the four Scott albums sometimes do),” we wrote in a Primer on Walker. “In fact, Nicolas Winding Refn used ‘The Electrician’ as his soundtrack to the dreamy, violent opening scene of the 2008 movie Bronson, and the song’s syrupy rhythms and woozy washes of synthesizer feel like they could’ve been recorded expressly for the film. That’s how modern and relevant Nite Flights still is.”
Walker’s experimental oddyseey continued in 1984 with Climate Of Hunter, which evoked O.M.D. in its dance-friendly approach to post-punk and new wave. 1995's Tilt and 2006's The Drift followed, emerging as challenging releases that toyed with glacial pacing and atonal melodies. He released Bish Bosch and Sunn O))) collaboration Soused in 2012 and 2014, respectively, and drew critical acclaim for his scoring work for filmmaker Brady Corbet. His final score, for Corbet’s 2018 film Vox Lux, is stunning.