Scott Walker is totally out on his own in the musical world, nobody compares to him and once you've listened to this record, you'll understand why. The journey to this record is a strange one as he began his popular musical career with the Walker Brothers, except none of them were called Walker and none of them were brothers, indeed Scott's actual name is Noel Scott Engel. Despite gaining a lot of popularity with the Walker Brothers, Scott threw it all away to pursue what he wanted to do and embarked on his solo career. After years of patchy work, some perfect albums, some dreadful ones too, a reunion with The Walker Brothers, Walker truly came into his own with the album "Tilt" in the 90's. The Drift, released in 2006 is his next big step.
It's difficult to really describe in words The Drift to somebody who hasn't heard it before but perhaps you can imagine what a nightmare would be like in the form of music then you're half of the way there. The Drift is at times a truly disturbing piece of work which keeps the listener on edge throughout.
The Drift took years in making as Walker perfected the music, often building his own "instruments" out of things like punching pork meat or perhaps scraping a metal bin on a large wooden box. Anything to get that perfect sound he wants. The results are well worth it, you can really tell that every second of this record has a purpose, every sound has been carefully constructed to create the atmosphere. Indeed, the musicianship on this record is often truly mesmerising. The skill involved is amazing, particularly in the heavy orchestral moments, which occur regularly.
The Drift would fill into many genres without being truly definable. Avant-garde, experimental and art-rock have all been used to describe it and all of these are true but don't get anywhere near to describing what it is like. This record isn't for the faint hearted, those that like music to shock them, leave them baffled, uneasy and provoking many thoughts should love it though it is far from guaranteed. The Drift received many, many strong reviews from critics on release but due to its nature, never got any wide attention. This record does split opinion and really is only for those with an open mind.
For fans of Scott Walker's work in the 60's, if you haven't heard "Tilt" then The Drift will likely be quite a shock. However, even in those four solo albums in the 60's that Scott produced, his development as an artist and his experimentation is obvious. The Drift comes at a time where Scott has really let himself go, really assured of himself and his ability, he has pulled off a remarkable piece of work.
Through the disturbing and bleak music are the fragments of songs, the lyrics of which are difficult to decipher with his wordplay and use of sound. There's one point where buggs bunny, (or is it daffy duck?) butts in with "what's up doc, what's up doc" in the most demented voice you're ever likely to hear but somehow it all makes sense after a few listens.
The Drift is a truly ambitious album that Walker has pulled off with complete aplomb. The thunderous, clunking music is skillfully produced and mastered. This record isn't a victim of the loudness war of modern production and is gloriously layered with lots of sounds and instruments to create a mesmerising and stunning piece of work.
Scott Walker is best known for his time as a 60s pop star as part of the Walker Brothers, famous for hits such as 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More'. Since then however he has become a recluse, appearing every few years to release increasingly weird solo albums before disappearing again.
The Drift, released in 2006, is his latest album, and is a very strange release indeed. Its a strongly avant-garde listen, with percussive techniques employed including repeated punching of a cow carcass and banging concrete blocks on top of a huge hardboard box, the songs swinging from weird ambience and stark, eerie, semi-acoustic guitar chords to bombastic and unsettling bursts of sound, with Walker providing vocals in the form of haunting, almost spoken-word-speed interjections and occasional bouts demented, over-the-top crooning.
The subject matter of the songs is equally disturbing, focussing on various strange and morbid topics, with one song being themed around Elivs Presley communicating with his stillborn twin, the song ending with Walker repeating the phrase "I'm the only one left alive" over and over again.
The production is excellent and the album is inventive and varied, with a very powerful and bizarre atmosphere to it. The album has a dark country and western/rock feel in places that will endear it towards fans of Mike Patton's band Tomahawk, and the album is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in atmospheric and unsettling music in general.
1. Cossacks Are 4:32
2. Clara 12:43
3. Jesse 6:28
4. Jolson and Jones 7:45
5. Cue 10:27
6. Hand Me Ups 5:49
7. Buzzers 6:39
8. Psoriatic 5:51
9. The Escape 5:18
10. A Lover Loves 3:11
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Cossacks Are
4 Jolson And Jones
6 Hand Me Ups
10 Lover Loves