Boomkat Product Review:
It's always worth considering the route Scott Walker could have taken following his flirtation with the charts back in the sixties - an endless procession of 'farewell' tours, some dodgy dance collaborations and a slew of moribund chat-show appearances. Instead, Walker's startling 2006 masterpiece marked a return from the brink with a music that still possesses potential to wrack nerves and stop listeners dead in their tracks. E-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l RIYL Diamanda Galas, Elvis, ART.
Walker’s incredible late period bloom ‘The Drift’ was his first solo LP, proper, since 1995, and would trigger an unparalleled bloodletting of energies that continued unabated through another four albums spanning soundtracks and collaborations with Sunn 0))), until his passing, aged 76, in 2019. It was all the more remarkable for the fact that Walker had been at it for more than forty years by this point, blazing one of the most distinctive paths in modern music with a career that started as handsome lead singer of LA trio The Walker Brothers (with two unrelated singers) in the mid ‘60s, and would unpredictably turn to increasingly baroque chamber pop by end of the decade, and fully embrace the avant-garde by the ‘80s. That energy fed forward and pools powerfully in the psychic traction of ‘The Drift’ , where Walker’s distinctive baritone croons seduced us thru the frightful ginnels of his mind, set to the grandest string orchestrations, angular instrumentation and gripping, sweeping cinematic glides..
With ‘The Drift’, despite the 11 year gap between albums, Walker would boldly pick up where 1995’s ‘Tilt’ left off, reigniting the torch for new ventures into the subconscious surreal. With benefit of hindsight, we can now draw parallels between Walker’s magnum opus and that of David Lynch’s ‘Inland Empire’ from the same year, marking the point where the two auteurs pushed off into their own worlds without any need for explanation, and likewise evoked the unique capacities of their respective artforms to convey sensations beyond the easily explicable.
Across 10 songs Walker would get closer than ever to integrate the sound design vernacular of Hollywood into his music, variously weaving in donkey brays to the ‘marish tension of ‘Jolson and Jones”, with its unforgettable lyrical refrain “i’ll punch a donkey in the streets of Galway”, or conjuring the sort of psychological tension that would come to define the Peter Strickland flick ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ in his masterful ‘Cue’ and the punched meat percussive foley in ‘Clara’, while channelling Donald flipping Duck on ‘The Escape’ and variously ruminating on themes of mortality, disease, and 9/11 conflated with purported dreams of Elvis. The result is a holy mountain of an album that you'll never properly scale, better to take in by repeated circumnavigation of its base, worshipping Walker’s formidable, untold prowess.