Thursday, November 4, 2010

Scott Walker- The Drift

2006 saw the arrival of two wholly original pieces of art both in film and music. In film, we had David Lynch's Inland Empire. So what could possibly be the equivalent in music? Scott Walker's The Drift. That's what. It's incredibly dark, brooding and intense. The best comparison I could make music-wise is Johnny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood. Not so much directly but more in the atmosphere and dread it creates.

Scott Walker was originally the founder of The Walker Brothers. Known for their poppy 60's era songs. His critical success however, would be found when he came into his own with 5 solo LPs. After reuniting briefly with the Walker Brothers, his work ended up becoming more sporadic. He has released 3 albums since 1980: Climate of the Hunter (1984), Tilt (1995) & The Drift (2006). Each increasingly experimental in texture and tone. With a habit for reclusiveness, it is unknown when he will release his next slab of musical anarchy.

For the music of The Drift, there are many intense changes in dynamics. Cossacks Are sets the tone immediately with its intense rhythms. There's quite alot Walker goes on abouit lyric wise within the songs. Buzzers explores the link between the Balkan Wars and the evolution of horses. Jolson and Jones is based off Walker's idol Jack Jones. With Jolson being silent film actor Al Jolson.

There's the lulling organ and drum tracks of Clara that slip into haunting, uncomfortable tones. While a track like Cue has Walker's voice lead to a haunting place of seclusion only to pull out the rug from under the listener and go into intense strings.

There's some truly "What the hell is that?" moments on here. Meat punching in the percussion. Donkeys screeching. Even Walker imitating Donald Duck. There will be listeners out there who will wonder why people listen to music that is drenched in such bleakness, but rest assured, The Drift has a human core. An album that is incredibly dense, yet pared down to its primal elements. It may cause the listener to occasionally laugh with its almost nihilstic musical approach. But rest assured, The Drift is an album that delivers Walker's voice with nightmarish urgency and grim foreboding.

For those interested in Walker's music, be sure to check out the documentary 30 Century Man. It's a good primer on his work up to The Drift.

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