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the Drift
Artist: Scott Walker
Label: 4AD Records
Length: 10 tracks/ 68 minutes

Scott Walker's new work of art is a tremendously difficult listen.  Its subject matter is hallowing, stilling, dealing with the struggles, pains, and evils that claw at the individual and at society as a whole.  Its songs are shattered, several-minute dirges that never once resemble anything familiar or friendly.  Walker 's vocals are operatic, his lyrics poetic and repetitious.  There is no inviting first impression of this record, little chance that it'll even sink in without multiple devoted listens. 
But as long as it might take, as much effort as may be required, the Drift does reach that point of sinking in, a point where comprehension does settle over the devoted listener.  And that's when it reveals its excellence. 
The Drift is immense. It matches every minute of clamor with subtler sounds and themes that unravel again and again in more and more impressive ways.  Incredible amounts of tension are built and maintained at every turn, producing a bleak atmosphere that is genuinely, startlingly frightening at many moments - this is as compelling an expression of real darkness and terror through music as I have ever heard.  
It does not let up either, not once through all ten of its songs, and finishing a full listen of the Drift can feel like a release.  It's not a record that will leave you unaffected, an experience surely to be unlike anything you'll hear for some time to come, fully rewarding, memorable, and original.  It's one of the best records of the year.

Jonathan Avants 9/9/06



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