Amanda Petrusich at The New Yorker:
There are a handful of niche artists whom I love to play for friends who have never heard them before. Music critics are infamous for these sorts of overbearing displays—smugly dropping a needle to a record and then staring, expectantly. It’s awful! Yet the first time that a person hears the singer Scott Walker—who died on Friday, in London, at the age of seventy-six—a palpable transformation occurs, and it’s extraordinary to witness. At first, Walker’s music seems recognizable enough: a man singing, expertly and beautifully, over sumptuous orchestration. Maybe you notice something about his breath, or the delicacy and precision of his phrasing. Perhaps you declare it “artful” or “luxurious.” Then, the mood grows subtly stranger until whatever room you’re sitting in begins to go blurry and soft, and it’s suddenly impossible to tell which end is up, or whether you’re dying or maybe being reborn. That was Walker’s particular genius—he made music feel new and destabilizing, no matter how cynical or jaded the listener.