The Drift (studio album) by Scott Walker
Scott Walker bestography
The Drift is ranked 2nd best out of 23 albums by Scott Walker on BestEverAlbums.com.
The best album by Scott Walker is Scott 4 which is ranked number 786 in the list of all-time albums with a total rank score of 2,346.
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The Drift track list
The tracks on this album have an average rating of 84 out of 100 (all tracks have been rated).
The Drift rankings
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The Drift ratings
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This album is rated in the top 3% of all albums on BestEverAlbums.com. This album has a Bayesian average rating of 77.7/100, a mean average of 75.9/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 78.0/100. The standard deviation for this album is 17.8.
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In 2006, a documentary on the musical life of Scott Walker was produced. 'Scott Walker: 30th Century Man', its title taken from a 'Scott 3' track, begins with narration from Sara Kestelman comparing the mythic tale of Orpheus, the Greek hero endowed with extraordinary musical prowess, to Walker's career, as the opening chords of 'Cossacks Are' ring out. It's said that Orpheus' skill could enliven and enchant not only people, but trees, rocks and the inanimate at large. Orpheus was able to convince Hades, Greek god of the dead, to relinquish the hero's beloved Eurydice with just the call of his song. The fabled maestro was the only mortal to return from the underworld and rejoin the likes of the living. Orpheus returned just once, Scott Walker has done it countless times. The notoriously undefinable figure found the Elixir of Life and was resurrected in 1984 with 'Climate of Hunter', in 1995 with 'Tilt' and most notably in 2006 with 'The Drift'. It was the latter that long held serve as his most experimental, ethereal and nebulous point, plotted on a map of increasingly unstable, scorched Earth. 'The Drift' places a heavy emphasis on imagery, much of it nefarious, discomforting and calling upon past horrors for inspiration. He bakes in percussion motifs powered by fists upon meat, wood blocks cascading into wood blocks and the union of hammers and well-pummeled steel. Yet, he christens his appropriately sinister, 13th studio effort with an aura that remains idiosyncratic. After all, who could produce music like this other than Walker? Who would dare even try?
Scott's much lauded voice is no longer the pristine, nimble entity which once danced gracefully atop oceans of orchestral merriment and crystalline, sonic soundscapes. Walker's voice, yet still powerful and imposing, is weather-beaten, strained and distinctly operatic. The transfiguration began in earnest on 1995's 'Tilt', however, here, Walker has completed his conversion into a decidedly tragic, tortured and spectral organism. He exists now, not as a separate presence isolated from his music, but rather a byproduct of its potent, thematic futility. Opening track, 'Cossacks Are', typifies the malefic overtones of the record to come, unfurling with a snarling, tumbling guitar spine, fused firmly with a stop/start drum motif which creates a dizzying sensation of circling dread. Walker's motives on 'Cossacks' are vaguely political, despite never being explicit. There's a glimpse of a warning that a black cloud of returning fascism is on the horizon. Walker cites quotes from an investigation regarding the war crimes of former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, which included the murder of his political adversaries. Walker prophesizes on future unrest to come by bellowing, "Cossacks are charging in, charging into fields of white roses." The weighted, punishing 'Clara' follows, a lachrymose romance told from the lips of Benito Mussolini's mistress, Clara Petacci. It's markedly obscure but Walker has found himself determined to venture further and further into the gray. The track is distinctly sectional, alternating between swirling, pulsating percussion and soft spoken words from both Walker and guest vocalist, Vanessa Contenay-Quinones. It may be the most visceral nightmare featured on 'The Drift', yet, Scott has described it as a fascist love song. It's easy to forget amongst passages of what sounds like congregating insects and vicious body blows. The dichotomy of Contenay-Quinones's serene vocals and the hellish soundscape spearheads the thematic intentions of the song. "Sometimes I feel like a swallow, a swallow which by some mistake, has gotten into an attic and knocks its head against the walls in terror," she laments. Petacci followed her lover to her death, opting to die alongside him and shooing away safe passage. 'Clara' is a fully-realized account of misguided, unshakable loyalty to an insidious, but powerful bigot. It's an absolute stroke of virtuosity.
Walker's appetite for obscure inspiration is wet further on third entry, 'Jesse', a track that finds parallels between the events of September 11th, 2001 and the death of Elvis Presley's stillborn brother. Pause quickly and internalize that. The thematic connective tissue that unites the two ideas are the immense voids that linger with their absences. Accompanying Walker's vocals is a crooked, malformed alteration of the famous guitar revs found in Presley's own, 'Jailhouse Rock'. It's a sluggish, hopeless confessional which ends with the narrator punctuating his profound loneliness by proclaiming, "Alive; I'm the only one left alive." Bouncing from one fever dream to the next, fourth track, 'Jolson and Jones' is an account of a pair of two crazed, post-limelighted showmen. Embedded within, the shaking of hands between the shuffling of feet on pavement and the panicked howls of a donkey is conducted. Valiantly, Walker is able to create a cohesive structure from these ingredients (and a damn good one at that). 'J&J' crescendos with the famous utterance of "I'll punch a donkey in the streets of Galway" proving that there is no gig or amount of degradation this pair of washed-up performers won't entertain. Subsequently, 'Cue' is a full itinerary in the life of a virus down to how it grows, mutates and spreads. Scott has also indicated that the track is a hazy rhapsodization on the philosophical concept of the self. I'll avoid rumination on the intricacies of those postulations for fear of doing a disservice to Scott's immaculate headspaces. However, 'Cue' is worth its 10-minute runtime for featuring the album's most ominous presence of unease. Late album entry, 'The Escape' represents a moment of abject oddness on 'The Drift'. It again accents a perceptible sensation of plummeting by way of the shadowy rhythm section. Conversely, it flourishes with airy outbursts of psychedelia. It's only fitting that the coda comes in the form of Walker (I still can't believe it's him) performing a Donald Duck impression by way of a Bugs Bunny quote. "What's up, Doc" is intended to be a reference to a Mel Blanc car-accident induced coma spring loaded within a track designed to detail a Jewish Rabbi witnessing a car bombing. You got all that? There will be an exam. It's an incomprehensible piece of music. The album comes to rest with 'A Lover Loves', a subdued acoustic guitar vehicle with heavy production stripped away. It's as if the record is a wounded animal seeking respite from fight-or-flight. A beautiful conclusion, but not without some of Walker's creative curiosity.
There's a tried and true formula for solving complex problems. Turn it on its side and look at it from a different perspective. That's the simplified way of summarizing 'The Drift'. Walker examined issues that captured his interest, made origami from them and presented them to the world in a shape which only he could conceive. The record doesn't gain its gravitas from the mere act of going off of the sonic deep-end. It's a captivating collection of songs because of the author's ability to synthesize the ugly, horrid and just plain odd into stirring tapestries. Walker has eschewed the term 'songs' when describing the album's chapters. A cynic would likely label that as self-importance or ostentation. However, a closer look at the man and his boundless humility would quell those accusations. Scott, at this point in his career, was practically a flesh-bound vessel for inhuman beings hard-pressed to tell tales of woe. How a human being reaches that state of consciousness is sure to remain a mystery, but as long as albums like 'The Drift' continue to arise, the vast, undiscovered arctic plains of creative exploration will need to be mapped. Unfortunately, Scott's dead and the remaining land will need a new Magellan, but he managed to chart a lifetime's worth of territory while keeping a detailed, frightening and thought-provoking travel log. 'The Drift' is his circumnavigation.
"Into pockets unstitching so weighted with pins,
Into eyes imploding on mazes of sins."
- Jolson and Jones
2. Cossacks Are
3. Jolson and Jones
This is heavy, scott can create this and aso something like scott 4, amazing
I went back and listened to this album after Scott's recent death and found myself pleasantly surprised. Psst, psst, psst, psst. Yes, it's a challenging listen but with total focus and the lights out it is an unsettling (in a good way) and captivating experience. Psst, psst, psst, psst. The only grumble is Scott's voice. Aside from the last track it's pretty much in the same key, the same tone and has the same unmelodic phrasing on every 'song'. Psst, psst, psst, psst. Sometimes I wonder if it would be more effective without the vocal track. Psst, psst, psst, psst. Still it doesn't tarnish the album and overall it's a mesmerizing piece of work. Psst, psst, psst, psst. Just not one for the Christmas party. Psst, psst, psst, psst.
The donkey and Zombie Donald Duck appearances make nice surprises :)
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An album everyone should hear once. Not something i feel driven to return to often but definitely a worthwhile listen ... and by worthwhile I mean bone chillingly terrifying.
Scott Walker is a mad scientist and a genius, but also, Christ, there's no need to make such a terrifying album.
The most insane and frightening album I've ever listened to. But immensely beautiful too - in its own strange way.
Scariest album ever.
Cosmic, yet extremely menacing. Nobody but Scott Walker can make an album like this, completely insane yet remarkably coherent and ambitious. He pulls of a seemingly impossible feat.
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