Monday, March 12, 2007

The Drift

Cinema, it seems to me, is here too. Like Nina Hagen's 'Nunsexmonkrock,' Einstürzende Neubauten's 'Tabula Rasa,' or, christ, even The Beatles' White Album, Scott Walker's 'The Drift' is an opus LP that uses music, sound, and language to explore the manifestation of space inside of time. Naturally enough, an image track is absent, but one nevertheless "feels" the coloration, the force of the "cuts" (in both the Motown and the montage sense), the edges of a fiction that lies plowed-over, waiting to be archaeologized and reconfigured by the devoted listener-spectator. For me, at this still-early stage of what I hope will be a long, lovely acquaintance with the record, 'The Drift''s most stunning aesthetic feat comes when the duck-call heard near the end of the second track, "Clara," ends up summoning, seven songs later at the close of "The Escape," a voice (Walker's?) giving full throat to an unintelligible anguish — while assuming the "disguise" of Donald Duck. With a modern pop-climate wherein Pitchfork Media's insipid rating-system can add, or chop off, several thousand sales in the initial months of an indie-label release (and which David Cross has deemed "2.shit"), it stands to reason that Walker's groundbreaking 'The Drift' (Pitchfork rating: 9.0) will influence more future "Best New Music" picks, and Rating: 6.5 savagings (a "65" meant a "D" where I went to school), than any other record from 2006. I say: Bring it, — from either direction.

Other music-related favorites, of varying cinematic capacities, included records from Joanna Newsom, Sparks, The Knife, Cat Power, Liars, Camera Obscura, and Morrissey — who on 'Ringleader of the Tormentors' managed to invoke Pasolini, Visconti, Magnani, and Claude Brasseur. I was hypnotized by the short-films for I'm from Barcelona's "We're from Barcelona" (directed by Andreas Nilsson, who is also responsible for The Knife's beautiful "Like a Pen" clip) and The Klaxons' "Atlantis to Interzone" (directed by Oliver Evans), both screening now on YouTube. My favorite single track this year, which was ridiculed by critics but which I find to be a listening experience of stupendous power on every level (production, texture, structure, technique, lyric), was "Ize of the World" by The Strokes. Finally, this was the year that I was able at last to hear an ever-growing collection of podcasted episodes from the long-running radio series by the great American genius Joe Frank. 'The Killing of a Chinese Bookie' to 'This American Life''s 'American Beauty,' Frank's program — in all of its incarnations — expands the possibilities of the "audio-program" form with the same zeal exhibited by Welles's Mercury Theatre On the Air in the late '30s. There's no doubt in my mind the name Joe Frank (who, praise be, is still kicking after a long illness in '05 and '06) belongs in that same pantheon of mavericks that includes our Orson, Cassavetes, Kubrick. He's the master of the audio seriocomico-psychodramedy.