Scott Walker
The Drift


4.5
superb

Review

by Jared W. Dillon USER (118 Reviews)
June 28th, 2006 | 92 replies | 17,489 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


2 of 2 thought this review was well written

While I’m certainly no “classic rock" nut, or even someone who enjoys the music of the ‘60s that much, I almost always find myself shocked out how many musical geniuses came out of that period. The thing about the ‘60s is “rock and roll" had basically just been formed and streamlined into popular culture only a decade before so experimentation wasn’t really what we consider it today. Adding something like a sitar or some other foreign instrument made a song experimental, and this is really just laughable compared to the standards now a days. While bands like The Velvet Underground and The Beatles certainly started to contort people’s general idea of music by the end of the decade, the real shocking work from the artists that gained popularity in the ‘60s really came after the end of the decade. Lou Reed did experiment with noise on the record “White Light/White Heat" but his real exploration of it came later in the ‘70s with “Metal Machine Music". While the Beatles were certainly paving new grounds in the ‘60s, what is usually referred to as their most experimental record, was released near the closing of the decade, as well as their members most experimental releases being released in the ‘70s. Even, David Bowie’s ‘60s releases would be considered tame, compared to the direction he took his music in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Although it could be challenge, in my opinion the most experimental artist to come out of this time is a man known as Scott Walker.

Scott Walker began his musical journey in the group the Walker Brothers who received respectable popularity with their 1966 single “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore". The single basically drew its success from that of the British invasion’s sound and was really not respected that much. Following the Walker Brothers’ success Scott decided to go solo to chase after musical integrity over popularity. He released four “self-titled" albums in the form of Scott 1, Scott 2, Scott 3, and Scott 4. These self titled releases helped show Walker’s unique and very operatic voice, incomparsion to the relatively tame singing he had done with the Walker Brothers. After these releases Scott Walker took a long hiatus until he released “Climate of Hunter" in 1983. “Climate of Hunter" was released to poor reviews, and even poorer audience reception and again Walker retreated back into hiding. After another twelve years of not releasing anything, Walker eventually released “Tilt" which is regarded in the same unlistenable vein critics labeled “Metal Machine Music" upon its release. “Tilt" was certainly one depressing listen, with its odd percussion and extremely dissonant melodies, backing the extremely operatic Walker. Well, “The Drift" is basically Walker’s attempt to one up himself and creates an even more harrowing and frightened journey into the mind of a man’s nightmares.

While “The Drift" is not completely devoid of actual musical instruments, it does tend to use odd techniques such as slamming a baseball bat against a slab of meat too create some of its percussion tracks. Walker seems to also be very fond of reversing string playing as well as the use of odd sounds effects (What sounds like wood being sawed on “Jolson and Jones"). “The Drift" is certainly no “American Idiot" and its subject matter shows that with song topics ranging from the Mussolini to Elvis Presley. Basically it’s a harrowing tale rich with stories of death, depression, and a sound that perfectly compliments it. Walker’s vocals haunt the already twisted instrumentals on the album, in a way which only Walker could. While he certainly doesn’t possess the vibrato of some of the most popular Opera singers, Walker’s subtle use of the technique really helps the music take on an entirely new nightmarish level.

Comparisons could be drawn to Naked City, or some of John Zorn’s acolytes but “The Drift" is really a singular album that’s only contemporary is “Tilt", Walker’s previous release. While Walker’s experiments in noise are certainly not “one of a kind", the way he applies these “blocks of sounds" is what makes him such an original artist. Sure, bands like The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, or Merzbow have experimented in the sounds of dissonance, but Walker’s combination of the modernist classical period, with the harrowing nature of his voice makes the music stand alone in the noise genre. Toby Driver, lead singer of Kayo Dot, seems to be on the same wave length as Scott Walker, with his recent solo album as they both are combining the warm sounds of classical noise with the use of harsh vocal performances. Also both artists seem to take their time getting to the point; Walker does not have a single track on the album less than four minutes excluding the closer “A Lover Loves".

“The Drift" is certainly one of the most interesting and darkest albums I’ve heard in recent years, and that certainly does affect its replayability. The depressing and intensely dark attitude of this album makes it be played only during times when I feel I can deal with those emotions without being completely overtaken. The album is basically unrentless in its despair until the closer “A Lover Loves" which is a quiet almost acoustic piece that is completely centered on the beauty of Walker’s voice. However before that we had to deal with what sounds like an exorcism recorded on tape in the form of Walker’s harsh use of vocals on the track “The Escape". Also the shocking moments such as the down played string section on “Cue" makes listening to this album while in a depressing or frightened mood almost unbearable because they will constantly have you looking over your shoulder, or weeping in your hands which I have both done due to this album. Yet, something extremely beautiful is found underneath this ghastly mix of vulgar sounds. “The Drift" is essential the aural equivalent of watching a car crash, while it is both horrible and depressing it as at the same time a beautiful and very intense experience.

Although “The Drift" is certainly not an album that can be played over and over again, it is most definitely a one of a kind experience. Any listeners who are interested in avant garde music or experimental music in general should definitely at least try out the album, as it is one of the most interesting and creative releases of the decade. Scott Walker simply doesn’t create an album on “The Drift" he creates an aural portrait of his nightmares, and that is what makes it succeed in it’s vision.



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user ratings (146)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
morrissey
Moderator
June 29th 2006



1688 Comments


You've been on a reviewing kick as of late, nice stuff. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like this since I'm a fan of more conventional music, but good review either way.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
June 29th 2006



2125 Comments


Nice work. I read an awesome interview with Scott Walker in some magazine a few weeks ago. I've been put off listening to this for a while though, because of it seems pretty intense.


Neoteric
June 29th 2006



3243 Comments


Nice work, not heard this yet.

Robert Crumb
Emeritus
June 29th 2006



165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album reminds me a lot of Nico's Marble Index and her other later stuff. Although that album really fails for me. This one though, for about a week I was really enamored with this album, and though that kind of wore off, I still think it's pretty cool. Divisive sound. "Psoriatic" is my favorite, I think. Still haven't heard Tilt.

Cygnus Inter Anates
June 30th 2006



721 Comments


This sounds interesting.

Med57
Moderator
July 12th 2006



1001 Comments


Very good review. I agree with pretty much everything you said, too. It's probably even more intense than Tilt, which isn't exactly Mr. Happy-guy album either, so anyone who thinks they'd be into that sort of stuff should definitely check this one out.

Serapheus
August 25th 2006



251 Comments


Listening to this now, It's the weirdest album i've ever heard.

KoraX
August 25th 2006



161 Comments


I really enjoy weird music but havnt found myself enjoying this yet.

Intransit
January 1st 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm listening to this now, and I can say this is one of the most frightening pieces of music ever created. This is like the soundtrack to spiraling down into hell

Eliminator
January 1st 2007



2067 Comments


With meat pounding

which i assume you're familiar with at this point?

Intransit
January 1st 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thats cute. Been hovering outside of my window at night have you?

pixiesfanyo
January 1st 2007



1222 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

eliminator can hover.

man.

Eliminator
January 1st 2007



2067 Comments


they don't call me, fuckin', Hoverin' Eliminator for nothing

Kage
January 1st 2007



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great album.

samthebassman
January 8th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

The most annoying album ever, arty for the sake of it, pretentious and just plain crap.

Plus this guy sounds like the south park characters when they try to sing.

In one word, SHIT!

morrissey
Moderator
January 8th 2007



1688 Comments


Please change your profile picture samthebassman or I will have to ban you.

samthebassman
January 8th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

is that better?

morrissey
Moderator
January 10th 2007



1688 Comments


haha much. Thanks.

Metalikane
January 30th 2008



851 Comments


This shit is scary... I love it! The vocals are a little off-putting at first, but I dig it regardless. I love me some creepy music.

Clara
May 26th 2008



10 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This record, along with Rain Dogs by Tom Waits, made me completely re evaluate what I want from music.

I wouldn't say it's perfect but it's pretty near for me.

For anyone who thinks Walker takes himself too seriously I point you to the bizzare impression of Daffy Duck he delivers on this record, along with the lyrics to the first track.



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