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Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom CD (album) cover

ROCK BOTTOM

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 566 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AA
5 stars For my second review I decide to spend some words and time on what is probably my favourite recording of all time. It might not be the most important record historically, it didn't break any selling records (obviously), it didn't kick-started any genre or current, and all in all its impact on Rock music is not that relevant compared to albums like say Dark Side or In the Court or Revolver, just for naming a few hosted in this website. The point with Rock Bottom is that it doesn't need any of that. It is not one of those albums you improve your opinion about given their historical importance or ground-breaking attitude. Of course, it is incredibly ground-breaking, but we'll come later to that. The point with Rock Bottom is that it is one of the most powerful statements about the tragic beauty of Life. I am not a christian, hardly a believer in anything, yet I believe in the extreme power of Art. In front of a Piero della Francesca or a Raphael, a Picasso or a Rothko , I am often brought to admit that, although it does not seem to have any meaning, in the en Life makes perfectly sense. The same happens with Rock Bottom. Every time I listen to it, usually at night, before going to sleep, I am brought face to face with my own Life, and consider what has been good and what bad, what beautiful and what ugly. As all works of Art with capital "A", it is universal. He might be talking about his lover, but he's actually naming every single lover any human being ever had. He might be talking about his own solitude, yet it strikes us all. All of this is accomplished thanks to Wyatt's incredibly childish-yet-mature lyrical poetry which has developed perfectly up to this album. Being he the artist he is, he knows the power of irony, of innocence, of childhood, of playfulness, which are capable of striking chords in our inner selves that sometimes sheer musical beauty can't. The same happens with the music: although all kind of experimental and avant-garde-ish instances are going on there, you always have the impression is all part of this man's vision of the world, and not just an artistic statement for the sake of it. This music can't be described, you have to experience it yourself. Try not to sample any tracks, as this is a single musical journey if there ever was one. Just think of it as a bit of Rock, a bit of Jazz, a bit of Canterbury, a very little bit of standard Prog, lots of Love and Sadness, and some other mysterious ingredients Mr. Wyatt would never reveal. Bear in mind this is no easy listening, this album is full of chaos and nonsense, but then again, could a work about life avoid chaos and nonsense? The title itself is a reference both to the philosophic and the musical statements in this album. The Rock Bottom of human condition, ie its purest form, its deepest secrets, its hidden tragic beauty. And then, the bottom of Rock music, where only tried and true explorers descend. So you have the incredibly water-y atmosphere of Sea Song, drowned in an ocean of Keyboards, with only the shy beat of a drum which sounds far away on another mind, and the intimate universality of Alifib, who might probably be the best love song about love sung by a man in love for all the men in love ever made. And that laughter, oh that laughter. That paranoid laughter at the end of it all, stands for human condition in its purest form.

A combination of Romanticism and Dada, of Rock and Jazz, of high and low Poetry, of childhood and maturity, of Happiness and Desperation, of deep meaning and nonsense, of Cry and Laughter, Rock Bottom stands as one of the ultimate works of Art in the 20th Century, in any Art form, by one of the truly understated geniuses of its time. If you are sensitive about art and life, and if you want a completely new approach to these themes, buy Rock Bottom, and listen to it at night before going to sleep, forget about your unity and enter the universality of human nature.

AA | 5/5 |

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