Scott Walker, some links

Recent picture of Scott Walker

Key non-album tracks for late-period Scott Walker enthusiasts:

  • Shutout, Fat Mama Kick, Nite Flights, The Electrician (from Nite Flights, Walker Brothers)
  • Scope J, Lullaby (by-by-by) (composed by Walker, sung by Ute Lemper)
  • Man From Reno (pre-Tilt draft for Farmer In The City)
  • Pola X (film soundtrack, features interesting but not necessarily essential Walker orchestrations)
  • Added 4/12: Darkness on Plague Songs (4AD compilation released winter ’06)

Me, I’m still struggling with The Drift. I posted my review a little while back which inevitably went little or no way towards doing the album, or even my thoughts about it, justice. According to the seldom-referenced playcount function in iTunes, I’ve played every track between 8 and 11 times – amazing, given its unrelenting, even tortuous nature. Someone on the lengthy ILM thread observed that the last four tracks were more varied and more melodic than the rest so I’ve been playing them more. There’s some truth to it, but the difference isn’t radical. It inevitably casts Tilt in a different light, which effect is something I’m yet to be sure about. If there will ever be another Walker album, it would surely have to be lighter or different in some way, something darker can’t be imagined…

My current tactic for making headway in The Drift’s starless noon is a development of the ILM contributor’s advice – I listen to individual tracks out of order and one at a time while following the lyric (the CD booklet equates to a libretto) and watching an iTunes visualiser plugin that displays the music’s sound spectrum. As a result I’m beginning to get a sense of each piece’s particular form – something that is made very difficult because the tracks heard successively in their original order appear to bleed together into a single form. I was surprised, for example, that Cue and Hand Me Ups were two separate songs, such is their apparent similarity. Of course, that’s a very superficial example, but I’m struck by the wealth of sounds and the songs’ relatively distinctive drama which becomes apparent when listening in this way. I’d like to be able to say that a clearer understanding of Walker’s lyrical concerns also results but that’s not been the case yet. Those two or three word lines are all knuckles with their skin scraped off – what to make of such bones in isolation from their larger forms? In one of the interviews linked above, Walker avers the impossibility of knowing others – his later work appears to be an ongoing attempt at communication despite this certainty – meaning is eclipsed, leaving a series of unrecognisable silhouettes in its place, vignettes to be marvelled at, moved by, terrified of, but perhaps never (fully) known. Despite which, the stark beauty of his lyrics is breathtaking:

Famine is
a tall

A building
in the

are you

It casts
its ruins
in shadows

[from Jesse (September song)]

(I have a plan to dissect a single lyric and see where I get to, whether I get round to it, well, we’ll see… The lyric won’t be the above one as its imagery is made clearer in the above-linked discussions.)

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