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Scott Walker:: The Drift (Album Review)

In the past 40 years, American expatriate Scott Walker has managed to resonate from the outskirts, erasing the sugar pop past of his Sixties group the Walker Brothers with a series of increasingly grand and eccentric solo albums. The Drift continues in the experimental throes of his last release, 1995’s Tilt, pairing long hallways of silence lit only by Walker’s voice, with epic surges of strings, synth, percussion, and even someone punching a slab of pork. His voice is the linchpin here, a voracious baritone that harnesses the spare creep of Nick Cave and the croon of Bryan Ferry and sounds positively otherworldly. Throbbing opener “Cossacks Are” takes a stab at his own elusiveness: “Has absence ever sounded so eloquent, so sad? I doubt it.” As cosmic as Walker comes off, however, he’s a storyteller. On the stunning noir of “Jesse,” a song paralleling Elvis’ stillborn twin with the Twin Towers, Walker connects: “Six feet of foetus, flung at sparrows in the sky,” as verses come wrapped in whispered “pow-pow”s. The lengths of hiss and silence can be unnerving, especially when his ethereal prose floats into a void. Yet when the swells come and Walker breaks the waves, it’s a thing of absolute beauty, and the black turns neon. (Review by: AUDRA SCHROEDER)