Album: Scott Walker

The Drift, 4AD
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The Independent Culture

Demur from the current acclaim for Scott Walker, and people assume that his "challenging" music is the reason for your dislike. Not so: I've a well-developed taste for the avant-garde and enjoy some of the soundscapes he has devised for The Drift. Their sculptural, architectural manner, with big, menacing blocks of sound - keening violins, braying donkeys, wind-machines, footsteps - crashing into one another, separated here and there by gaps of silence or industrial humming, has a grace and solidity that's strangely appealing in its self-confidence. No, it's Walker's voice I can't abide, that sombre baritone with its air of lofty condescension and its bleak, repetitive delivery of seemingly random non sequiturs: "and the jigger raps pits"; "I'll punch a donkey in the streets of Galway"; "six feet of foetus flung at sparrows in the sky".

For all their quixotic intrigue, and Walker's oblique approach to such ghostly subjects as Elvis Presley's stillborn twin and Mussolini's doomed lover, nothing on The Drift is quite as startling as the impression of Donald Duck that concludes "The Escape". Maybe, despite all the apparent melancholia, Scott's having a little chuckle to himself.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Cossacks Are', 'Hand Me Ups', 'The Escape'