Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Founding member of art rock group Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, helped set the tone of the sixties psychedelic scene in the UK. With his distinctive drumming and vocals, Wyatt attracted a massive following across Europe. An... more »
Founding member of art rock group Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, helped set the tone of the sixties psychedelic scene in the UK. With his distinctive drumming and vocals, Wyatt attracted a massive following across Europe. An accident in 1973 left the drummer paralyzed forcing him to shift efforts on solo recordings. His distinct style of mixing simple and effective keyboard melody lines with poignant lyrics, often filled with personal and political references, have proved both haunting and reflective. Rykodisc is proud to introduce you to 4 re-mastered Wyatt classics - Old Rottenhat, Nothing Can Stop Us, Dondestan (Revisited), Shleep.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You don't know who Robert Wyatt is?! This is a great CD to start getting to know him. I know of no other male singer who has a voice that sounds as sad and lonely as Wyatt's voice. It is the emotional honesty that attracts me to his singing and it is the simple raw beauty of his music that keeps me listening. Robert Wyatt does not sing AT you. Rather, he sings FOR you. (Pop divas sing at you - they attempt to blow you away with over-the-top dramatics and the heavy over-production and orchestration to match!) One reason why you might not have heard of Wyatt before is that he does not tour much, if at all any more. You see, Robert Wyatt isn't a rock star, but an activist-artist whose canvas is his music. Another great CD to begin with is Wyatt's "Mid-Eighties," which contains all of "Old Rottenhat," plus a few extra tracks, including his version of the songs Biko (Peter Gabriel) and 'Round Midnight (Theloneous Monk). His CDs Ruth is Stranger Than Richard, Rock Bottom and Shleep are are highly recommended starting points too."
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording and the follow up, Dondestan, are equally brilliant and beautiful works. On both discs, Wyatt is solely responsible for all of the instrumentation and vocals. He handles the task with great success. Where such solo efforts can often be exercises in excessive self-indulgence, this work comes across as the artist's successful efforts to create and express that which he is hearing in his head. Additional musicians would only have subtracted from the completion of the hole. What is striking about this recording is that where it is at first listen quite stark and minimal in it's presentation, each listening brings with it a growing awareness and appreciation for the depth and richness of the compositions and performance. The work of genius. Highly recommended...Simon"
A bit stark and overtly political, but a solid addition to a
Elliot Knapp | Seattle, Washington United States | 05/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Old Rottenhat is Robert Wyatt's first full-length solo album since 1975's Ruth is Stranger Than Richard, released a full 10 years later. Though Wyatt did record a bit and released a few singles (mostly covers) in between, Old Rottenhat is in many ways a breakage of silence, and a reemergence of Wyatt's stupendously unique musical, lyrical and vocal voices, and hearing it makes me wish he didn't always wait so long between records. Old Rottenhat is Wyatt's most politically-charged album, which occasionally comes across as a little bit preachy, and the production is at times slightly desolate, but on the whole Old Rottenhat is a tour de force of Wyatt's strengths, and worthy of an important place in his oeuvre.
Old Rottenhat contains some of Robert Wyatt's finest songs to date--the hypnotic groove of "East Timor" highlights the terse but evocative lyrics, "The Age Of Self" is also quite dynamic in its rhythms, which complement the lyrics and lilting (sometimes wordless) vocal melody perfectly. Other highlights include the industrial-sounding hammering of "The British Road," the quasi-Latin feel of the apropos "Gharbzadegi," (which has been translated from Arabic as Euromania, Westoxification, or as Wyatt puts it, "Westernitis") and finally the gorgeous love song, "P.L.A."
Throughout the record, Wyatt consistently impresses for several reasons. First, his inimitable vocals. The timbre and range of Wyatt's voice are mind-blowing, and (though they may be an acquired taste) a lot of people find it quite compelling. Old Rottenhat strikes me as one of the first records where he scaled back the jazziness of the instrumental accompaniment but ramped up the jazz inflection of his vocals with great success (check out "United State of Amnesia" or "Mass Medium" for great examples). He adds to this wonderful effect by multitracking vocals in numerous places to produce complex layers of gorgeous harmony. Second, I'm always delighted to hear in Wyatt's songwriting the surprising chord sequences he comes up with--the next note he sings is always a surprise, and it may take a bit of getting used to (this is definitely 'active listening' music), it's really valuable when songwriters like Wyatt strive to extend the boundaries of conventional songwriting. Third, he may be a parapalegic, but his creativity with drum and cymbal percussion is always hypnotic and restlessly energetic.
As I mentioned earlier, Wyatt's political message comes across a little heavy-handed on a few songs, like the opener, "Alliance," and "United State of Amnesia." Not that I disagree with his ideas or would rather he didn't express them, it's just that his songwriting is more transcendent when he expresses his ideas through images rather than argument ("East Timor" is a good example of this; though it references specific people and places, it shows rather than tells its message). Additionally, this is the first record on which Wyatt plays all the instruments. Most of the time, it's a slew of unidentifiable keyboards/synths. In some ways, it's really cool, since he makes a novel combination of jazz and singer/songwriter styles to produce something completely original and otherworldly-sounding. An unfortunate byproduct of this style of production, though, is that sometimes the music sounds slightly inorganic and computerized, which (for me) grates a little bit. On his next album, Dondestan, Wyatt employs similar instrumentation but smooths the corners a bit to produce a more listenable mix, and on later records he brought in a few collaborators to mix up the sound a bit. Other than these minor items, Old Rottenhat is a fine album and a great Wyatt statement. I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction to Wyatt (I'd go for either the first two Soft Machine albums or Rock Bottom to start with), but it's certainly representative of the quality he can put out. Happy listening!"