I've been avoiding writing about the new Scott Walker album for quite a while now. It's certainly worth taking one's time over - albums like this don't come along very often – but I've just kept putting it off and putting it off. It's too daunting a task. This is the kind of work that can swallow you whole if you start trying to analyse about it. How to avoid getting sucked into its labyrinthine logic, its unfathomable depths? I haven't been able to find a satisfactory angle to approach this thing from.
It's about to come out now, so - if I'm going to be giving some kind of advanced comment - it's time to get a move on. But I'm at a loss to give you anything but the most prosaic facts and reactions. I apologise for starting with the basics. I apologise for not being able to get much farther than that.
Well - first of all - it's good. Very good. Not as good as Tilt, I think, but certainly (even) more ambitious in its sonic neo-modernism and lyrical narrative scope. Yes, it does indeed sound like a more extreme Tilt - perhaps a "Tilt" where every song is "The Cockfighter" (except for the closer "A Lover Loves" which very closely mirrors Climate of the Hunter’s "Blanket Roll Blues" and Tilt's "Rosary"). If anything The Drift makes one realise how many great songs there were on Tilt. There isn't anything as melodically pleasant as "Farmer in the City" or classically song-y as "Patriot".
If Tilt was dark, The Drift is fucking ANTI-MATTER. The lyrics, as well as the sonics, are extremely distressing and the whole thing occasionally slips into (apparently deliberate) self parody. A challenging listen, then - and just when we need it. My only quibble is that Scott seems a little too keen to equate darkness with dept, a mistake that leads him to use phrases like "anthrax jesus" somewhat too often for comfort.
Comfort isn’t a consideration on this journey though, is it?