Scott Walker - The Drift
There really can't be another artist like Scott Walker making music like this today. Where plenty of his contemporaries have kept themselves on the same well trod path, Walker completely shunned the limelight and successful formula he'd built up with the Walker Brothers and decided to do things his way. With each subsequent album he's managed to slowly deconstruct the way songs are made, the way modern music can be pieced together to form something completely new. If 1995's Tilt scared you, The Drift is going to haunt your every waking hour.
Moving further and further away from what you would normally consider being "a song" and how songs, lyrics and music are constructed, there is plenty here to put off anyone who's going to casually listen to this album. The first couple of spins will just sound like you’re listening to something completely alien. There are no "songs" here in the traditional sense, the only thing that keeps this record rooted in rock music as such is Walkers fantastic voice - he wails and drifts through the music, a constant force in an otherwise sparse and derelict environment. It may be a cliché, but the more you listen to this album the more it reveals itself to you - you can pick out the different instruments, the deeper sounds just hidden at the back of the recording. In fact some of the "instruments" on here aren't even typical - a slab of meat is slapped, a donkey squeals, it all adds to the uneasy and dark feeling that percolates through the album.
This is also an overtly political record, attacking popular culture and politics - mainly America's dubious foreign policy. The track Jesse sees Walker writing as Elvis Presley talking to his stillborn brother about the September 11th attacks - Pow, pow - as the planes attack it seems to wake the brothers out of their dream like worlds. It's all very odd and disconcerting, the music fuelling a feeling of paranoia and darkness that chills to the bone. Clara sees Walker covering the death of Mussolini and his mistress Claretta Petacci who was executed with him after the Second World War - it's a love song of sorts, but one that you wouldn't play your own loved one.
With all this going on, the record could easily fall into art nonsense, a piece of pretentious bull shit. However, you get the feeling that Walker isn't doing this to be deliberately obtuse; he's doing this because this is what he believes. He wants to make music like this; he wants to challenge not just our preconceptions of how songs should be made, but also challenge his ability to make songs like this. Sure its difficult and it won't be for everyone, but it's worth the effort, it's worth letting Walker weave his unique ability into your being, let yourself get immersed in it's darkness and see where it takes you. There is no one making music like this and for that alone we should be thankful.