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Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom CD (album) cover

ROCK BOTTOM

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 540 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Wizard
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Robert Wyatt having broken ground with the Soft Machine, made some excellent experimental music with Matching Mole and on his debut 'End of an Ear' moved on to create the masterpiece that is Rock Bottom. Wyatt would begin to take a more song driven approach, while still being as experimental as ever. Rock Bottom is unlike no other album ever recorded, it is truly unique. Not everyone will see it's glory, in fact few will be able on their first listen. It's the perfect example of a rewarding album.

There is little of traditional rock on this album. Instead there are the sounds off jazz and electronic music along with the melodic touch of pop music. But to describe the sounds of Rock Bottom by simply using genres does not do justice to the unique sound of the album. Using minmalist percussion, woodwind instruments, delicate basslines, smooth acid rock guitar tones, and layers of almost dissonant synths the album gains a very surreal and mysterious atmosphere. Wyatt delicate and tender voice as an instrument, while also using it to express surreal, stream-of-conscience lyrics that add further to the albums atmosphere.

I have listened to Rock Bottom countless times and each listen is a unique experience. Everytime I slip into the albums surreal world I notice something new and interesting. There are many things going on in the album, layers of synths and effect, but at the same time the album is minimalistic; everything there serves a pourpose and adds to the experience of the album. Nick Mason truly did a fabulous job producing this album and capturing the talent of Wyatt and his fellow musicians.

The tender and melodic Sea Song opens the album, with those droning sythns giving a backdrop to simple drum beat and Wyatt's sensitive and beautiful voice. Rarely have I heard lyrics so deep, personal, and searching yet surreal and odd. Rumors claim they are about his stay in the hospital after he fell out of a building, but they were written before the accident occured.

Much of the album follow a pattern of dissonant yet ambient synths, minmalistic percussion, improvisational jazz, all giving Wyatt a brackdrop for his singing and melodic piano. In some cases this would get repetive and boring, but it never does. This idea works so well that it never gets tiresome or dire. It is a brilliant balance between melody, pure atmosphere, and improvisation. The whole idea of the song still exist, but it is brilliantly expanded upon.

The album ends on a very bizzare note, with Ivor Cultler rehearsing a spoken word part written by Wyatt over a sea of backwards violins. The words he says are positively strange and in a way disturbing, his thick Scottish accent being perfect for his role. Rock Bottom is a perfect title for the album because the album is like a mysterious and surreal journey through the sea, everything seeming like a foggy dream. While this album may be hard to tackle and understand, it's definetely one of the most magnificent things ever recorded and is case for genius. Anyone searching for an experiece that transends common music will find Rock Bottom a perfect album.

The Wizard | 5/5 |

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