Scott Walker – The Drift

Author: Colin | Published: 4/7/09









Artist Scott Walker
Title The Drift
Label 4AD
Year 2006
Designer Vaughan Oliver at v23, design assistance: Chris Bigg at v23
Music Darkness, leavened occasionally by the blackest of humour
Notes Other than my copy of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn in the previous but one post, this record is probably my other most treasured piece of vinyl. The Drift was released on record only as a promotional item and as it’s one of my all-time desert island selections, I’m very grateful to the designer Vaughan Oliver for giving it to me. The cover and accompanying booklet successfully reflect the darkness of the music they presage. With themes including Balkan genocide, the fate of Mussolini’s lover Clara Petacci, the twin towers and Elvis Presley’s still-born twin brother, it’s difficult to read the darkened textures as anything other than blood-stained walls.

I realise it’s pretty much a truism, but the design is immeasurably better served by the scale of the 12″ format than the CD package (which I also own). Vaughan expressed a degree of frustration at the degree to which his design was circumscribed by Scott Walker. Given the expressive freedom of so much of Oliver’s work, that’s understandable. His approach is hugely impressive all the same: the typography and layout are formally impressive and the muted colours are striking –  particularly the gold and pale blue against the darkened background.

The layout of the lyrics is by Scott Walker, and is the same approach seen on his previous masterpiece, Tilt. The spindly, tall lines suggest something intensely honed, eked out against the lure of silence (a decade, give or take a few years, divides each of Scott Walker’s last three albums). Dare I say they suggest Giacometti figures? Well I did! The photography is also worthy of note, simultanously touching upon Scott and suggesting disintegration, intensity and alienation.

The only slightly discordant note is struck by Ian Penman’s essay which is unforunately at once hagiographic and rather prosaic. Ultimately, singing Scott Walker’s praises is tremendously superfluous: you will either be immensely moved or alienated by The Drift.


  1. I’m jealous. The man is an artist in a world of panderers.

    Comment by Jinsai — July 9, 2009 @ 11:04 pm
  2. The packaging is beautiful. Unfortunately the vinyl pressing is rubbish (at least my copy is), which is astounding given the care that was taken in the creation of this beast.

    Comment by Jon — August 27, 2009 @ 4:24 am
  3. Sorry to hear that, I’ve played my copy a couple of times and didn’t hear a problem with the quality.

    Comment by Colin — August 29, 2009 @ 4:47 pm
  4. […] To see more images of The Drift, please visit the post on Hard Format. […]

  5. The Drift, refective of the current-events toxicity of late, perfectly captures the tenor of the times. The cover art is an emotional black hole full of fear, discontent and malaise.

    Comment by John J. Potter — January 11, 2011 @ 6:47 pm
  6. Good description!

    Comment by Colin — January 17, 2011 @ 9:05 pm
  7. It was released as both a promo LP and regular retail LP too (different catalog numbers but essentially the same item).

    Comment by Dack Hoober — January 22, 2011 @ 8:03 am
  8. Interesting. It must have been produced in small numbers though as it seems to be hard to get hold of. Still an absolute favourite possession of mine, still one of my ten desert island choices (though singularly cold comfort should I ever be shipwrecked with it…)

    Comment by Colin — January 23, 2011 @ 3:31 pm
  9. post hardcore

    Comment by Matthias — December 3, 2011 @ 5:27 pm


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