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Robert Wyatt - Shleep CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

3.87 | 171 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Robert Wyatt is a strange bird. For newcomers the music of the leftfield founder of Soft Machine may come across as a mixture of jazz, progressive and singer songwriter. Every album has an impressive list of well known musicians making guest appearances. This proofs the man's fabulous reputation in the rock scene. Here we have Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Philip Catherine & Paul Weller just to name a few of the guys that accompany him on several albums. Too bad so little people do know his work but those who do won't mind that at all. To me, his music is like therapy, after a long day of hard work it enables me to set my mind on ease and allows me to dream. A track like "Alien" seems to be extremely suitable for this purpose. Based on a fluid keyboard, Wyatt vocals seems to drift on the waves of latino rhythms and easy listening piano. I must admit not being focussed all the time while listening to this album but isn't this the reason why it was conceived for ? The atmosphere on this album is captures you from the first notes but some tracks pass without noticing. A delicate song like "Maryan" is the first one that wakes me up. The acoustic guitar, the vocals and harmonies remind me on Floyds "fearless" but clearly the beautiful violin line is the most remarkable aspect of this track. On "Was a friend" the lyric of old friendship is substantial. The lush keyboards and jazzy drums don't do much more than to create the atmosphere but it works. How on earth is it possible to create something that beautiful with so little notes of music. Sometimes less is more, I guess. Wyatt's sax is the jewel on the crown. Great track ! "Heaps of Shleeps" is the opening track but as the only real pop track on this album it doesn't represents the overall feel of this album. This doesn't mean this isn't enjoyable, its pop nature hides multicoloured keyboard parts, some good melodies and typical British vocals. "Free will and testament" is another lazy track reminiscent to early Floyd, no wonder Gilmour pops up on some other Wyatt's records ; here the voice of Wyatt sounds just like him. "A sunday in Madrid" is a remarkable track where you'll find Wyatt more talking than singing on a solid musical bed of sounds that are structured in a cool way. Please notice the blues influences in the piano parts. The up-tempo "blues in Bob minor" could easily be the one that pleases prog ears the most. The keyboards, piano and electric guitar pump the rhythm on and on..

The career of Robert Wyatt is spawning more than three decades but little albums were released in that time. As I listen to his album only once in a while, one release in seven years may be enough. Also this enables him to keep the quality of his compositions constantly high. Wyatt's high voice may sound strange at first but after you get used to it, it becomes quite appealing. More than once this sounds quite chaotic but when you take a good listen you'll realize it's not. The compositions seem to be well crafted musically, more than once the combination of instruments are combined in a mathematical way. Strange enough this doesn't mean there's no emotion, it breaths emotion mainly due to the vocals. But it's never getting pathetic in any sense. Even though "Shleep" isn't sounding old fashioned the atmospheres are quintessential mid seventies ; the sound refers to the time when "Rock bottom" was released which is his best album ever. This album is another one of the finer efforts of Wyatt. This needs several spins before you'll start to discover the unique charm of the tracks. At first they all sound alike but in fact there quite different. This is not an album for every day use but when you're longing to find some peace and you like some jazzy atmospheres in prog, try Shleep and soon you'll be out of this world.3,5 stars

Fishy | 3/5 |


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