31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The audio equivalent of Pandora's Box - approach with caution
I'm so tired. Last night, I listened to The Drift for the first time, and as a result, I didn't get a wink of sleep all night. Nothing - NOTHING - can prepare you for the sheer terror that this album invokes. I usually try to listen to new albums in one go. I managed most of The Drift, and thought I was doing well, considering some of the waking nightmares I encountered...
Published on 17 Jan 2008 by Mr. John Phillips
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 4 years later
This set of reviews seems to be more of a forum for people who have heard this album and who want to share their experience than a guide for people weighing up whether to buy it or not. Well I love Scott Walker and Tilt remains one of the most influential pieces of music I have ever heard but this album is, yes, four years later, still one that I just can't get through...
Published on 24 Dec 2010 by m4xpem
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The audio equivalent of Pandora's Box - approach with caution,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)I'm so tired. Last night, I listened to The Drift for the first time, and as a result, I didn't get a wink of sleep all night. Nothing - NOTHING - can prepare you for the sheer terror that this album invokes. I usually try to listen to new albums in one go. I managed most of The Drift, and thought I was doing well, considering some of the waking nightmares I encountered along the way. But I failed. The penultimate track pushed me beyond the limits of fear. This is my story:
I love Scott Walker's older stuff, and to honest, I bought this album without reading any reviews beforehand, expecting something similar to his old work. Thankfully, before I ever actually listened to it, I read the reviews on Amazon, and I watched the 30 Century Man documentary, that showed all the pork-punching weirdness that went on in the recording of this album (it's true - the percussion on Clara is the sound of a man laying a side of pork on a studio table and punching it. I'm not making it up).
I can't even begin to imagine how I'd have reacted to The Drift if I hadn't been warned of it's sheer extemity. I'd probably have had a heart attack somewhere down the line. I unreservedly apologise to the other reviewers on this page, since I read their proclamations of The Drift's sheer horror and mocked - "how can music be so scary, they must be mad!". Oh, how wrong I was. After The Drift, I had to line up CD after CD of happy music to bring myself back from the brink of despair.
At this point in a review, it would be normal to compare The Drift to other albums, but there is seriously nothing like this in the whole world, and I hope there never will be again. One hour and nine minutes of utter terror, the kind of thing you could only ever have heard in your very worst nightmares.
I thought I was doing OK. Cossacks Are is a strangely wonderful song. Jesse is just unpleasant, nothing more; Clara and Cue are shocking, horrible, and sickening, yet strangely beautiful, as is Jolson And Jones (donkey noise not withstanding). Then it goes relatively calm for a couple of tracks - emphasis on relatively, as by normal standards, they're still pretty harrowing.
Then there's The Escape.
Or more specifically, there's THAT moment, four minutes and ten seconds into The Escape.
The moment when I was so scared that I threw my headphones across the room and sat there, heart racing, short of breath. The moment when you realise why the album has, other than a pretty unsettling sequencer driven bit just before, spent the last few minutes lulling you into a false sense of security. Now I know what other reviewers meant when they talk about "The Donald Duck Bit". I know how stupid this must seem to anyone who hasn't heard it, but it's true - it's just vile! I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. It's genuinely traumatising stuff. I really can feel my heart rate increasing just thinking about it.
The problem is I'm just fanning the flames. The reason I finally listened to The Drift after it sat on my desk for weeks on end, taunting me every day, daring me to play it, was that I'd read the reviews both here and elsewhere, and finally curiosity got the better of me. How can this CD evoke such extreme reactions? Surely these people are exaggerating? They're not! I can imagine future generations setting up support groups for people who have listened to this album. As I type this, I am looking at the black CD packaging, and I feel like I am looking into the very heart of evil. It sits on my desk like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Like the music, the casing is the blackest black I've ever seen. I want it to go away, but I don't want to touch it in case I get sucked into the abyss. I took on The Drift, and The Drift won.
Maybe you, my dear reader, will read this and do the same thing I did. If you do, please don't do what I did, and listen to it alone, late at night, through headphones. I'm not normally affected by horror films or anything like that, but The Drift reduced me to a gibbering wreck.
Seriously, I don't care who you are, I can tell you one thing right now:
You are not ready for The Drift.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy smokes!,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)To the reviewer below unsure as to whether to get this album: I recommend it, but be warned. It is scary, even more so than Tilt; if your Scariest Moment in Music up to now was the eerie shrieking at the heart of Face on Breast, as mine was, then prepare to have the breath knocked out of you - *twice* - by The Escape on this album. It's easily the most horrific song I can recall hearing, if not the scariest sound I've ever heard when - (spoiler) - he does that thing with his voice.
But I'm dawdling too much on the one track; the whole thing is immensely rewarding, if you're up to it, and I for one had the long-forgotten feeling, playing this for the first time, that I was actually hearing something new and different for a change. Anyone with a casual interest should hear Tilt first, imho, and progress from there. It's cold, gruelling, and cathartic; it's that man again. Enough said.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be careful..,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)A few months ago I read an article on "the maddest albums ever made", The Drift was included in this. Talk of donkeys being scared and punching pork was mentioned - "eh?" I thought. Then I saw the 30th Century Man documentary on Scott Walker and was particularly impressed by his passion for the music he made. (Up to that point I only knew him as being one of The Walker Brother's and for singing THAT hit) I wanted to check out his later music but was advised to try Tilt before The Drift. I loved Tilt, even if the music spooked me a bit. However, nothing could quite prepare me for The Drift.
Alone on a dark evening I listened to the album through headphones. I could feel my skin starting to crawl as the first few tracks weaved through my ears. Then all of a sudden on the track "Cue" Scott began to wail "Immunity won't feed on the bodies!" against the most frightening music I've ever heard. I threw the earphones off and had to press stop - it petrified me that much! I have a broad taste and have listened to all manner of supposed "scary music" but nothing even comes close to The Drift. The lyrics and imagery conjured up have to be heard to be believed, they are just horrific. This album gets top marks for illiciting such a primal fear in me and for being like nothing else I've heard. Buy it now but beware of what it may do to you upon listening...!
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)(Note: I wrote this review a while ago and gave the album four stars. That was a mistake. It should be ten. The trouble is, I can't change the rating above. Anyway, buy this album.)
When I first heard this record, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that someone could get away with making rubbish like this. 'Songs' sung on one note, no melody, no structure. And scary. I can't talk about individual tracks - they're all the same, scary. My daughter begged me to switch it off when she heard it, she was terrified. Fortunately, however, I gave it time and effort. So far it's been about four or five months and when I come home from work the record I always want to listen to, despite the lack of tunes, is this one. I don't understand why.
Walker's voice is amazing, of course, and the 'sonic landscape' (as Eno might put it) is constantly interesting and full of the unexpected. You can't sing along to it though.
If you're prepared to put in the effort, you may eventually enjoy this album. But don't count on it.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of rare beauty,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)This is another review which is going to one end of the scale or the other and I'm firmly in the 5 stars camp. Having got into Scott as a result of hearing he was an influence on other artists I like and having the easy way in suggested to me: Boy Child, Scott's 1-4, Sings Brel etc. I found Climate Of Hunter and Tilt exceedingly hard work.
The Drift is by comparison a complete contrast. It has only taken 4 or 5 listens for the beauty and simplicity of the music to start to introduce itself to me. I've barely had time to consider the words Scott is using. At the moment his voice is merely another instrument. A part of a whole.
The album reminds me greatly of the production job Scott did on Pulp's We Love Life album. There are definite echoes of I Love My Life and Wickerman in the guitar sounds and thunderous effects on Jesse and Psoriatic respectively. Buzzers somehow manages to effortlessly swing from a mournful dirge to tantalizing hints of the swooning string arrangements which characterised Scott's work with Wally Stott and Peter Knight.
I don't listen to this album for enjoyment, I don't expect my friends to like it, and I'm not even sure what exactly I like about it. All I know is that in The Drift Scott has created an atmospheric piece, which should be seen as one work of art and not 10 tracks. Some of the atonal string work on CUE reminds me of the Fire Suite on Brian Wilson's SMiLE. This can be no bad thing.
Far from losing his muse Scott has found it, grabbed it, refined it and put it out there for the rest of us to marvel at.
This is the work of a genius and is exceedingly beautiful.
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death Fugue,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)Contemporary critics of the German Jewish Poet, Paul Celan, accused him of veering towards an expression that mirrored an altogether private world. Indeed, Celan set out to refine a "Hermetic language" that only he could unlock and codify, re-translating the tragedies of losing his mother and neighbours in the region of Bukovina, as the engines of extermination gathered momentum.
Just as Celan presented us with a cryptographic geography of the horrors of European Fascism. Walker boldly takes up the challenge and presents his own " Hermetic" world of horrors, without resorting to moralising. Each song is like a deep focus lense of war journalism, of the kind that we don't watch on televison anymore. Our collective eyes de-sensitized to atrocity, while our ears are deaf to the grief of the wandering dead, desperate to relay their stories to the living.
Thank god we have artists that still have private worlds.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 4 years later,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)This set of reviews seems to be more of a forum for people who have heard this album and who want to share their experience than a guide for people weighing up whether to buy it or not. Well I love Scott Walker and Tilt remains one of the most influential pieces of music I have ever heard but this album is, yes, four years later, still one that I just can't get through. I've tried it at night, on trains, on the M4, I've really made an effort but it simply doesn't make a difference. It just hurts my ears with its unending, tuneless meanderings. Tilt took a while before it revealed its near infinite musical depth, but this album has never got there for me and I fear it never will. Anyone who found another Tilt in there is a lucky person indeed.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long days journeying into night....,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)QUICK thoughts on The Drift: it takes time - like, three months - to fully get into it, and for me the best way was to treat it like an old-school vinyl double, across four sides.
Program 1 and 2, then lie in the dark; then it's 3 and 4 five, and a fag break. Clear the memory, then treat 5 and 6 as a side. Finally ride 7, 8, 9 and 10 into the heart of darkness.
I adored Tilt and admit I found The Drift disappointing at first. Now I cannot keep away and genuinely rank it among Scott's finest efforts - it conjures images of fear and dread I only wished `horror' films could. Heavier than heaven, but approach with caution - and enjoy in small doses.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars like a fine wine....that leads to insomnia,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)The king of brooding avant-rock returns over a decade after 1995's immensely rewarding aural challenge, Tilt. So, has he mellowed, perhaps come full circle, The Drift a collection of pop tunes with guest appearances from the other Walker siblings? You can probably guess the answer.
The Drift is a punishing listen, painfully intense and more than a little bonkers. The lyrics remain cryptic as ever, Walker on Jesse addressing 9/11 via Elvis Presley's stillborn twin, elsewhere pondering the woman who insisted on dying with Mussolini and punching a donkey on the streets of Galway. Away from impenetrable couplets and Donald Duck impressions, historical politics dominate on tracks such as Clara and Escape, a glint of humanity on a truly alien record.
The music retains a humming, industrial clatter throughout, the only track resembling a `normal' rock song tellingly being the opener, Cossacks Are. Even this, its queasy drumbeat like a basketball being bounced in a puddle, is hugely unnerving. The 9 tracks that follow are some of the most bizarre and scary you will hear all year, because frankly, no-one makes records like Scott Walker.
On that note, a warning: do not listen to this if you have a heart condition. Walker peppers tracks with immediate, terrifying discordant strings, his eerie baritone bellowing overhead. Even considering the sparse guitar licks and meat-punching (you read it right) that accompany his lyrics, Walker's voice may prove to many to be the most uneasy part of the album. Everything is sung in his now trademark mini-operatic waver. This combined with his vivid imagery and defiant non-music might sound like some unholy chaos, and to some degree it is, but it remains utterly unique throughout.
What compels Scott Walker to make such recordings is a mystery to me, and to be truthful, I don't want to know the answer. Whatever the reason, the result is an opaque, mind-blowing album, and even if he takes ten years to make the next one, chances are this'll still be lurking around your CD player come 2016.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Veteran maverick turns in first album in more than a decade - and yes, it's worth the wait.,
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)Scott Walker, once the classy crooner who thrilled girls in bedsits with songs of dark romance, was lost to the mainstream as long ago as 1969. His band The Walker Brothers had once been almost as big as The Beatles, but epic pop songs like The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore and My Ship Is Coming In were never going to satisfy him long-term.
Retreating from the pressures of celebrity, he embarked on a different career - but his solo albums were ahead of their time, blending covers of songs by Belgian chansonnier Jacques Brel with his own enigmatic observations of life. The sublime Scott 4 - now hailed as a cult classic - put an end to his popular career and it took Fire Escape In The Sky, a compilation by uber-fan Julian Cope, to bring him back to public attention in the 80s. Two intriguing but oblique works followed in Climate of Hunter and Tilt - both critically acclaimed but largely overlooked by the public.
Now, after eleven years comes The Drift - a terrifying song-cycle which will appeal to lovers of Schoenberg and Stockhausen as much as it will to the goth-rock crowd. Walker abandons arrangements in favour of whirling "blocks of sound", lyrics in favour of poetic fables which unfold with hypnotic and often horrifying clarity. Footsteps, spoken word, the sound of a side of pork being beaten; even a sinister imitation of Donald Duck all add to this expressionist soundscape, a series of aural imaginings which drag you into their cinematic world and slam the doors shut.
What you find there makes the world of Maynard James Keenan come across like an episode of Teletubbies. Walker has the knack of making his music fit - and sometimes anticipate -- his lyrical imagery, so that an oblique line like "Cossacks are charging in fields of white roses" resonates through the atonal fury of the music, packed with mystery and meaning. There's a song about the death of Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci, strung upside down by their heels for the crowd to jeer at; themes of abuse also surface in the nightmarish Hand Me Ups. Strangest of all, though, is Jesse, in which Walker links the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11 to the weird story of Elvis Presley's stillborn twin brother and imaginary friend. "Famine is a tall tall tower....six feet of foetus flung at sparrows in the sky."
Brilliant though it is, this is by no means the most accessible album of the year. Many will find it daunting and difficult, Walker's still-lush baritone the only element they can recognise. But in a world where so many ageing legends collapse into self-parody, Scott Walker remains bravely balanced on the cutting edge.
first published at subba-cultcha.com
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