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Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom CD (album) cover

ROCK BOTTOM

Robert Wyatt

 

Canterbury Scene

4.30 | 552 ratings

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JackFloyd
5 stars I first bought this album fresh from hearing Matching Mole and Soft Machine and was hoping to find some signals of the music of both, but when I heard it I was glad such was not the case. The only thing Rock Bottom has to do with the aforementioned bands is it's maker and the partcipation of bassist Hugh Hopper, the rest is entirely different from Third and Matching Mole.

Rock Bottom was first thought as a new Matching Mole record, with the line-up of Wyatt/Monkman/Windo/MacCormick, but as Robert suffered the accident and it became clear he wouldn't be able to drum anymore, he turned that nugget into a solo album, a move that would dramatically change the music of it and Wyatt's whole career.

The instrumentation present here is pretty strange and most of the ethereal atmosphere of it is due to the use of a mysterious cheap keyboard, an electric organ from italian combo company GEM called Riviera, which is a rather simple machine but capable of some jaw-dropping stuff. Wyatt acquired in it while on trip with his girlfriend (and future wife) Alfreda Benge in 1973 at a toy shop, and learned to use it while recovering in the hospital. The sound of the Riviera dominates four of the six songs, be it with brass and vibrato ("Sea Song"), reeds ("A Last Straw", "Alifib") or flute settings ("Little Robin Hood Hit The Road"). Apart from the Riviera, there is mellotron choir on "Sea Song", slide guitar on "Last Straw", bongos, tape processing, harmonium on "Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road", and Richard Sinclair and Hugh Hopper on bass, Laurie Allen on drums, Mongezi Feza on trumpet, Gary Windo on sax, Mike Oldfield on guitar, and Alfreda Benge and Ivor Cutler as speakers, the result is a record like no other before or since.

An important thing to note is that this is not music for the faint-hearted, it is very personal, searching, weird and intense, so anything remotely resembling easy-listening or even acessible material is entirely absent here, and it's hardly a good place to start with Robert Wyatt, even if it's his very best.

JackFloyd | 5/5 |

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