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Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom CD (album) cover

ROCK BOTTOM

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 540 ratings

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AdamHearst
3 stars Rock Bottom is a very abstract and eccentric record which could be inaccessible to most people. Following the terrible accident that left him a paraplegic, Wyatt seemed to withdraw into his own world... the music here is very personal, lonely, introverted, and at times claustrophobic. I can't imagine the ordeal he must have suffered at that time... the bitterness and frustration are palpable in every track, and everything tends to drift out of focus after a while, as if Wyatt was lost in thought.

The album begins with the gorgeous 'Sea Song', a fragile and heartbreakingly beautiful ballad. A haunting sadness floats beneath the mellow surface waves of synthesizers, piano, distant bass and hand-percussion... which are the only instruments which accompany Wyatt's mournful aching vocals for the majority of this record.

The first part of 'Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road' is very strange and hypnotically repetitious. Half of the music plays backwards while the other half moves forwards, which creates a psychotic feeling... it's like being pulled into two different dimensions of reality simultaneously. The vocals are weird (alternating between forward and backwards speech) but Robert's unique delivery is always entrancing.

'Alifib' and 'Alife' are quite Avant-Garde in approach... disjointed vocal ramblings containing surrealistic stream-of-consciousness lyrical gibberish are accompanied by the cacophonous noise of droning synthesizers and painfully-straining Acid Jazz horn shrieks. Parts of these tracks are interesting and pleasing (especially the melodic second half of Alifib) but this part of the album runs on for too long and ultimately never goes anywhere.

The second epileptic episode of 'Little Red Riding Head' swirls around in a blurry state of confusion. It begins relaxed and gentle and becomes increasingly busy, bizarre, and convoluted. This is the second best moment on the album. This track ends the album with a deep spoken-word part that is a head-scratcher... real out-there.

The morose atmosphere of this album may be too depressive for casual listening... it is very blue. I think it may take many deeply concentrated listening sessions to really 'get' this material. The albums is very good for the most part (especially the first half) but worth owning only if you enjoy bizarre experimentalism in music.

AdamHearst | 3/5 |

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