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Scott Walker - The Drift

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 15 / 5 / 2006

Scott Walker - The Drift
Label: Select Label
Format: CD


Experimental and totally inspiring new album from 60's icon Scott Walker, back with his first album in 11 years

Scott Walker has been a part of my life since 1984. I first heard his late 60's and early 70's solo albums and remember not being overly impressed but, as soon as I heard the Walker Brothers, my life was changed. 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore' remains one of my favourite records of all time and remains timeless. Scott Walker has been making music since the late 50's, and first started releasing records when he was 15 years old, pre-dating the Beatles' professial career in music. He started as a 50's style teen angel, before developing into the Scott Walker that we know today. 'The Drift' is only Scott's fourth album in 22 years. 1984's'Climate of Hunter'died a death and Scott disappeared again until 1995, when he released 'Tilt'. As is normal for him Scott was as shy as possible, with his only live appearance being on BBC2's 'Later', which was shown with the studio in darkness and no Jools Holland interview which is what he normally does with legends that appear on the show. 'Tilt' was no ordinary Scott album, but it is the start of where Scott now is. The old Scott was king of the big ballads. Since'Tilt' Scott has produced the last Pulp album, 2001's 'We Love Life', and recorded a soundtrack album for the French film 'Pola X', a dark film about an incestuous brother and sister's screwed up relationship which featured real sex in it as well as a live rehearsal by Sonic Youth. 'The Drift' carries on from where 'Tilt' left off. Scott Walker is no longer the big balladeer. Scott Walker now is the most extreme experimental artist around. It's no wonder that he feels completely at home at his new label 4AD records. And it is no wonder that 2006 is the perfect time for Scott Walker. 'The Drift' like 'Tilt' is not an easy listening record. It is hard work. It requires that you listen to it rather than just have it on background music. It opens with 'Cossacks Are' which starts off moodily and carries on like this until the end. 'Cossacks Are' is atmosphere based with the drums almost fighting the guitar to be the dominant instrument. Scott's vocal is angry, eerie and compelling, sung in a storytelling style which just sucks you in. This opening track comes over as a cross somewhere between Goth and industrial rock, and like the rest of this record is not easy listening. 'Clara' is another dark material and again narrative. It begins with a dripping tap and is quite slow to start, before it become more furious. There's lots of experimentation on this. Imagine if 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' was made 40 years later. That's how experimental this is. As it grows parts of it begin to sound like the harrowing 'Jaws' soundtrack from 1975. At 7 minutes in it becomes a duo with a female vocalist. The sound of a fight can be heard in the background. And then it becomes more broody on us still and more orchestrated. At the 10 minute mark Scott's vocals are sounding something like Jim Morrison's poetry as bagpipes and weird noises assault us. The track finally ends with a tale of a little bird flying into Scott's room. The opening rhythm to 'Jessie' sounds like the theme from 'Alien' meeting a spaghetti western with its strange guitar vibe. Scott spouts about novacakes and black cocaine. The whole track feels like the soundtrack to a film. 'Jolson and Jones' tells of spring in decay and is again very experimental. There is sound of what sounds like a donkey in pain, as well as the noises of footsteps on old cold stone steps. Again this song sounds like the score to an eerie film. 'Cue' starts like a cross between a war film, a torch ballad and a horror film. Brass shrieks out on this, like a lonely cry against a bleak landscape. Later on there's a rap tapping of a door. Scott's lyrics on this recall Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven' poem, the part when death comes knocking at the door. It is another 10 minute piece. 'Hand Me Ups' starts off in fiery fashion. Strings scream like a cry of panic. Hand claps keep the rhythm going. Buzzers go off. Bells are knocked upon. In the background there can be heard what sounds like a Radio 4 announcer. There are some great lines about polishing a fork. It in mnay ways sounds like a continued version of 'Jessie'. 'Psoriatic' starts off sounding like a 30's 'Frankenstein' film. It is thunderous in sound with savage violins going off, and lots of items being hit with objects. 'The Escape' is slow and dramatic, with some weird flute going on. The whole thing has an Eastern European feel to it. At its end a character that sounds like Donald Duck possessed by the devil shouts "Lock Your Door". It ends with 'A Lover Loves' which would almost sounds like a straightforward song except for Scott's strange vocals. A great fine piece of work and a billion miles away from the old Scott Walker that we used to know.

Track Listing:-
1 Cossacks Are
2 Clara
3 Jesse
4 Jolson and Jones
5 Cue
6 Hand Me Ups
7 Buzzers
8 Psoriatic
9 The Escape
10 A Lover Loves

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