Autobiographical Order No. 204: Scott Walker – The Drift

Remember when I said I loved “creepy” music? I’ll do you one better. I love terrifying music. Music that keeps you up at night, that makes you see things, that’s blood-curdlingly menacing and chills you to your core. I’m not talking about pure noise or grindcore or whatever. Those are just loud. I’m talking really terrifying stuff here.

Scott Walker’s The Drift is maybe the most deeply unsettling album I’ve ever heard, and because of that it’s a damn masterpiece in my mind. Of course, that also means it’s not for everybody. I know a handful of people that love this album, and they’re either kindred spirits of mine or fucking weirdos, but either way that’s to be expected. The Drift is a dark album, with long, dissonant sounds and horror-movie orchestration. It’s basically The Shining: The Album. (And if you want to split hairs, sure, you can call me a fucking weirdo.)

I discovered this maybe a year after it was released (which was 2006), kind of out of morbid curiosity. I knew of Scott Walker’s music in the ’60s, which was far more accessible, orchestral art pop that made him briefly into a sensation in the UK. He’s a major influence on Britpop and artists like David Bowie, and he gradually went into some weird and experimental places, which I’m here for. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard. I didn’t know how to process it, really. But it hit me hard. I wasn’t sure what I thought of it, but I wanted to keep listening to it. I needed to get into it, to make sense of it, to understand it.

Now, the music is pretty intense. But the songs themselves are about pretty intense things too. For instance: “Jesse,” with its mangled “Jailhouse Rock” guitar riff, is one of only two songs I know of about Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother (the other is “Tupelo” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds). “Clara” is about 9/11 (“…like what happened…in America”) and it’s maybe the only song to capture the horror of it. I put it on a fall/Halloween mix for friends and a good friend of mine asked, “Dude, are you alright?”

And of course I was. This album challenges me in ways few others do, which is why I had to own it on vinyl and listen closely to Walker’s deep croon and the booming bass drum. It’s quite something. I don’t expect many to share my opinion on this. And I’m OK with that. I don’t need all the music I love to be for everyone. Sometimes, even, it’s better if it isn’t.

Rating: 10.0

Sound Quality: Great

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