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Robert Wyatt - Wyatt / Atzmon / Stephen: For The Ghosts Within CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

3.01 | 36 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

A Wyatt collab with saxman Gilad Atzman and also to a lesser extent violinist Ros Stephen (appears on half the tracks, and half of those on backing vocals), as well as a Sigamos String Quartet, From ghosts within is more of standard jazz affair, but more accurately jazz standards. Strangely enough, double bassist Richard Pryce is much more present than Stephen, but doesn't share the bill, but unlike him, he's no "executive producer" and "string arranger". Graced with an artwork in the line of Cuckooland and Comicopera, FGW is now clearly in the Domino Records tradition, sporting a white-rimmed and tray digipak package, which is now the standard for Wyatt reissues, including most of the 70's stuff. Anyway, this album is a mix of jazz standards getting the lounge treatment (nothing to do with Buddha Bar garbage, though) and some original written-for-this-session tracks, which do differ somewhat from the first category of tracks of the album.

Well if you were thrilled by Robert's recent works, don't jump on this one hastily, because it's extremely different and you will probably wonder WTF by the second track onwards. Opening on ELO-type of an intro in Laura, as soon as Robert starts singing, the musical mode shifts in syrupy jazz standards ala third-age lounge music, quite a world away from what Wyatt had gotten us used to. And the original tracks, while not as standardly jazzy, don't have any kind of energy, even when they stray into ethnic ambiance - slightly Arabic on Lullaby For Irena, Bal-Musette on At Last (with its accordion) or Gypsy-inspired on Maryan (Robert's best vocal performance of the album), etc. The only track that sticks out from the lot (especially on the energy level) is the bizarre and sometimes dissonant piece where arte they Now that develops into an Arab-spoken (I think) rap courtesy of Atzman. Overall, the strings have a tendency to over-sweeten what are interesting ideas to start with, but completely flattened by the listless string arrangements. Atzman's wind-instruments playing is easily the best thing on this album.

So better watch out and not jump on the Wyatt product blindly, unless you're actually a couple decades older than Robert, as the closing ultra-standard Ellington (not Ellidgeon ;o))) Sentimental Mood or Wonderful World rendition, not even reprised in an even remotely Canterburyan fashion?. And between Robert and Louis, it's not much a match, with all due respect to Wyatt. A risky bet, but Robert is not one to play it safe, and that's much to his credit.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |


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