How big of a Robert Pollard/GBV fan are you? Perhaps this album (#3 in the Fading Captain Series) is the ultimate test. From the spelling on the side of the case ("in shop wwe build electrical chairs") to the music within, this Nightwalker album is as far away from another 1999 release, Do the Collapse, as you can get. I personally picked up this disc even after hearing from others how terrible it is, just so I could fill a gap in my Pollard collection, and of course review it for you on this site. I will tell you right off the bat that this disc is in no way essential for the fan, and should be among the absolute last of your Pollard-related purchases...
I personally do not know the specifics of what this disc represents timewise, though a visit to gbvdb reveals that it is mostly a Robert Pollard, Jim Pollard, and Mitch Mitchell collaboration. Perhaps it is a collection of their worst demos? After a drum solo which includes some haunting, reverb, and distant vocals near the end, The Fink Swan (Swims Away) is the first true track. The recording quality will test your personal listening limits, as echo-filled Pollard vocals are sung over a single guitar riff.
Kenneth Ray begins sounding like something from Vampire On Titus, but then the distortion fuzz continues on for over a minute and a half until Pollard begins talking, then screaming, over the same constant beat. Dogwood Grains is a minute-long acoustic track which is somewhat similar to Drinker's Peace, though without nearly as many redeemable features. Amazed is a droning poem recited in front of what sounds like hospital equipment beeping, and Signifying UFO (as well as U235) is a throw-away even on this disc.
Ceramic Cock Einstein may be the most interesting track on the CD, given how it starts out like something you would expect on a Circus Devils release, or as a soundtrack to a Bela Lugosi horror flick. It goes on sounding like backing music for an old black and white fright film until with just over two minutes left, an actual song emerges, but not a good one.
The best song on the entire album is Weird Rivers & Sapphire Sun, and I'm tempted to put it on the playlist just so something from this Nightwalker album will be on it. However, for now, I'll put it on the re-visit list. Trashed Canned Goods may have a better song hiding behind the fuzz, though the bass line is actually pretty cool. And finally, the eleven minute long experimental Those Little Bastards Will Bite is a fitting conclusion for an album that goes absolutely nowhere.
Perhaps there is a point to this album which I completely did not pick up on. I would love to hear from those who listen to Nightwalker regularly, and the reasons for their fondness of it. I might not ever listen to it again, except for maybe Weird Rivers & Sapphire Sun which is the only real bright light here, if there is one. This is among the worst of Pollard's releases, and I'm sure I am not the only fan of his who thinks so. There is so much good stuff out there from GBV, Pollard solo, and side projects like Lexo and the Leepers that make this album unnecessary.
Tracklisting (none make the playlist):
01 Drum Solo
02 The Fink Swan (Swims Away)
03 Kenneth Ray
04 Dogwood Grains
06 Signifying UFO
07 Ceramic Cock Einstein
09 Weird Rivers & Sapphire Sun
10 Trashed Canned Goods
11 Those Little Bastards Will Bite