Thursday, July 06, 2006

Scott Walker - The Drift

Over the weekend a few friends and I stopped in at Luna Music Midtown. I had no intention of purchasing anything. I had already spent enough over the weekend at the damn race track. A friend however based on a load of good reviews purchased The Drift by Scott Walker. Truth told I had not heard anything about the album and knew nothing about Scott Walker before this weekend. As we were driving out to a swimming pool Monday, he called from the car ahead and told me he couldn't listen to the album anymore and to come up and get it from his car. Once I put it in my stereo I was intrigued and I have likely listened to this now about seven times over the past few days.

I don't know how to even describe this. I want to say dark. It's definitely dark. But I love me some Joy Division, and while others consider that to be dark as hell, numerous Joy Division songs make me wanna dance. Truthfully. This on the other hand is actually dark. Walker's voice is a eerie baritone. It's piled up against soundscapes that in interviews have just been called "blocks of sound." I'm not sure if that would make any sense unless you have actually heard it. The subject matter goes from a song from the point of view of Mussolini's mistress who chose to be hung upside down with him as Mussolini was hung, to Elvis Presley singing to his stillborn brother Jesse. There are very few sources of light on this album. The light that does come is in blasts or shrieks that are uncomfortable if only because if the total contrast from the rest of the album. It's a difficult listen. What's more? The beating of raw meat as percussion in at least one song. As a vegan, I am not at all comfortable with that. Then again whole album is really uncomfortable. It's not an album that I find myself heartily reccomending to people. Or maybe I am, maybe thats why I am writing about it.

Yet, I find myself coming back to it to listen to over and over again over the past few days. I am convinced that it's a masterpiece in some way. The jacknuts over at Pitchfork seem to agree. Yet, the fine people over at PopMatters agree as well. I am also convinced that in about 3-4 days, or maybe even today I will find this far too difficult to listen too, and will put it away for a few weeks or months before bringing it out again.

At any rate, there is a mini-site (as opposed to a full site?) for the album which can be found Here. The site is as dark and confusing as the album, yet if you look hard enough you can find a link to a video for a song, which not yet seeing, I don't even trust to play at work.

At any rate, once this morbid fascination is through hopefully I will get back to listening to some other fine new stuff like Grant Lee Phillips nearly impeccable album of 1980's covers, amazingly enough titled nineteeneighties. Cause really, if anyone is gonna cover New Order's Age of Consent as a folk song, it may as well be him. And trust me, it's fantastic. And more singalongy then Mr. Walker.


mike said...

I suppose anything that causes a reaction could be argued as art, but I kind of think that the album is completely disposable, and perhaps even a joke.

Beating on meat as percussion? Does that really add anything musically? And if it does, does it need to be explained or told? I think instead it's a ploy for attention, which is fine as an artistic statement I guess, but it certainly doesn't seem worth extended exposure or continued listening.

But that's just one guy's opinion.

mike said...

I guess my point is, who does Scott Walker think he's kidding?

scot said...

Well first off the meat as percussion thing does seem a bit ridculous to me as I already mentioned, and for a multitude of reasons. But i definitely don't think the whole thing is a joke. There seems to be a thought process to the lyrics even if they are a bit heavy handed and obtuse. Musically, it does sound good, imo. There is something to be said for a collection of sounds that sounds that claustrophobic. (and I think i spelled that wrong).

Whether or not it warrants continued listening is debatable. Some great films are out there that I wouldn't wanna see more than once, just for the subject matter, or how I felt afterwards.

I've always liked Philip Glass, who is not many's cup of tea, some didn't consider his stuff worthy art either. I thought that Sufjan Stevens sounded like Glass doing pop music. This stuff sounds like Glass after a nervous breakdown.