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Robert Wyatt

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Robert Wyatt Comicopera album cover
3.78 | 98 ratings | 9 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

Act One: Lost in Noise
1. Stay Tuned (3:49)
2. Just as You Are (4:21)
3. You You (4:22)
4. A.W.O.L. (2:56)
5. Anachronist (3:28)

Act Two: The Here and the Now
6. A Beautiful Peace (2:27)
7. Be Serious (2:56)
8. On the Town Square (5:26)
9. Mob Rule (2:16)
10. A Beautiful War (2:40)
11. Out of the Blue (3:41)

Act Three: Away with the Fairies
12. Del Mondo (3:29)
13. Cancion de Julieta (7:32)
14. Pastafari (4:37)
15. Fragment (1:38)
16. Hasta Siempre Comandante (4:37)

Total Time 60:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Wyatt / vocals, piano (1,2,10), keyboards (3,5,9,11-13,15), trumpet (1,4,13), cornet (3,5,8), guitar (6), percussion, Fx (14)

- Seaming To / vocals & clarinet (1)
- Monica Vasconcelos / vocals (2,15)
- Paul Weller / guitar (2,7)
- Phil Manzanera / guitar (6)
- Del Bartle / guitar (8)
- Brian Eno / keyboards & effects (1)
- David Sinclair / piano (4)
- Alfonso Santimone / piano & keyboards (16)
- Annie Whitehead / trombone (1,3,5), baritone horn (4)
- Gilad Atzmon / saxophone (3,5,8), clarinet (3)
- Maurizio Carmardi / saxophone (16)
- Yaron Stavi / double bass (1,2,4-7,9,12)
- Jamie Johnson / bass (3), Fx (14), mixing
- Chuco Merchan / double bass (13)
- Alessandro Fedrigo / bass (16)
- Gianni Bertoncini / drums (16)
- Paolo Vidaich / percussion (16)
- Orphy Robinson / steel drums (8), vibraphone (14)

Releases information

Artwork: Alfreda Benge

CD Domino - WIGCD202 (2007, UK)

Thanks to Agemo for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ROBERT WYATT Comicopera ratings distribution

(98 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ROBERT WYATT Comicopera reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars I have all of Wyatt's studio albums except for the first. There's not a bad one in the bunch and this one's no exception.

The liner notes don't explain why, but it's divided into three acts. According to a recent interview, with Robert, on Lost In Noise, "is about loss and relationships." The Here And Now, is "about things I like, don't like, don't understand". Away With The Fairies "is, you know what? I'm fed up with English speaking people. I'm going to go away with the fairies. I sing in Italian and I do a bit of surrealism, free improvisation, and end up with a romantic revolutionary song of the '60s, a hymn to ChÚ Guevara. Just to say, that's my generation, the kind of hope that kept us going. I'm not saying it worked or didn't, but without these little dreams and hopes, I couldn't survive."

The first act, Lost In Noise, is very horny, uhm, I could phrase that better --- Horns are used in most of the pieces of the first act, Lost In Noise. The opening track, Stay Tuned is a slow piece with Eno doing keyboards. Not often that you hear Eno with horns. Just As You Are is probably my favorite on this album (no horns for some reason). It's a touching duet with Monica Vasconcelos about loving your partner, however imperfect either of you may be, "just as you are". You You was recorded in Robert's home studio. A one way thank you. A.W.O.L. is a rather sad tune about a woman lost in Alzheimer's "the tick and the tock of the damnable clock". Anachronist rounds out the first act. A very somber instrumental at the start picks up and starts to sound optimistic.

The second act, The Here and Now, starts off with an upbeat track A Beautiful Peace, a little folksy. Phil Manzanera is on guitar. Be Serious is a Robert rant against religion. On the Town Square is a rather cool instrumental with a nice Caribbean sound to it thanks to the steelpan player. Hard to describe but it reminds me of hanging out on a nice tropical beach somewhere. Mob Rule seems to be actually about what the authorities do in reaction to the people rising up. A Beautiful War is a sarcastic take on destruction of war "it's a beautiful day". Out of the Blue turns to an interpersonal blowup and wraps up act 2, atchoo!

For act three, Away With The Fairies, Mr. Wyatt switches to Italian for vocals. As someone who knows very few words and phrases from other languages, and yet many still that have become a part of US English, it's nice to listen to. I've enjoyed Italian lyrics/vocals since I first heard PFM. I really need to stick these in a translator. For now, I'll enjoy the sound of the words. Great vocal tracks and then comes Pastafari, not sure if the name fits the piece but it's rather vibey, if you know what I mean, almost reminiscent of Gentle Giant. Fragment is a fragment of Just As You Are. The final track of the album and the act, Hasta Siempre Comandante, has a nice Latin American sound to it and Spanish language lyrics.

All in all, a very nice cosmopolitan album.

Review by fuxi
5 stars COMICOPERA takes all the best elements from Wyatt's great (but terribly sad) 2003 album CUCKOOLAND and improves on them. Most of the 'usual suspects' play their part. Wyatt receives a lot of support from trombonist Annie Whitehead, double bass player Yaron Stavi and saxophonist Gilad Atzmon (one of the most celebrated young players on the British jazz scene); while Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, David Gilmour, Paul Weller, Karen Mantler and even Canterbury stalwart David Sinclair perform guest roles.

The thing that strikes you about COMICOPERA is, first and foremost, the incredible joy in playing that pervades the album. Back in the seventies Wyatt had his first go at recording a (somewhat Mingus-like) jazz album of his own when he made RUTH IS STRANGER THAN RICHARD, but much of that album seemed half-hearted and everyone found it a disappointment after the superb ROCK BOTTOM. Now, a full three decades later, and after Wyatt himself has achieved considerable mastery on the trumpet (!), he has another go at the same kind of thing, and the result is exhilerating. "You You", "Anachronist" and "Be Serious" are all jazzy and superbly listenable. "Anachronist" features a whole army of Roberts singing irresistibly in the style of Hatfield and the North.

Back in 2003 Wyatt claimed he was taking up the trumpet because his voice was 'no more than a croak', but the OTHER thing you will immediately notice about COMICOPERA is how powerful and self-confident his lead vocals now are. If you enjoy Wyatt's highly idiosyncratic style, tracks like "Stay Tuned", "A Beautiful Peace" and "Del Mondo" will delight you. I even believe Robert has never sung better! His duet with Monica Vasconcelos on "Just as You Are" is one of the most refreshing things he's ever done - never mind the resemblance with a well-known 1970s hit song by Leo Sayer...

Apart from all those jazzy experiments, COMICOPERA contains a few typically surreal, melancholic ballads in which Wyatt gives voice to the feelings of people bewildered by life. And finally, I don't know how many of you are going to be cheering for this, but Wyatt the old Marxist is back as well: COMICOPERA ends on a latin-tinged, bitter-sweet version of "Hasta Siempre Comandante", Carlos Puebla's song in praise of Che Guevara.

All in all, COMICOPERA is an album to be savoured; definitely one of the best releases of 2007.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars A few years ago, I remember being very under-whelmed by Wyatt's previous album Cuckooland, and although I haven't heard it in full in a while, I maintain to this day that it is a sub-par effort, but I know I will reinvestigate it in the near future. If I spend time over that album, it is precisely because Robert's latest album gives me the same feeling of obtuse impermeability, even after a half-dozen listens in the last two months. Although I find Comicopera more focused than its predecessor, which is only normal since this one is a conceptual piece, a three-act play of apparently unrelated subjects, obtusely illustrated (or un-illustrated) by unrevealing drawings.

The first Lost In Noise act is probably the easier-understood of the three acts, although there is a blatant plagiarism of a well-known love mega-hit song of the 70's in the second Just As You track (I'll let you guess which, it shouldn't be hard). The other four songs are imprinted with the usual melancholy and sadness that Wyatt has gotten used to for decades. Nothing bad, far from it, but hardly anything new either, so it has this dÚjÓ-entendu depressing feel, that still claims a certain beauty, if well faded by now. The Anachronist instrumental gets my favor in this act, especially because of the cello rumbles

The second Here And Now act starts on a pedestrian folk tune, followed by an Atheist preaching (Weller on guitar), than an instrumental sort of calypso track that takes time declaring itself, and overstaying its welcome by four of its 5 mins+ duration. Insufferably long, mostly because it fails to evolve; and with that basic flaw in mind, it's clear that Town Square is a filler. The next two track fail to arise (or arouse) my interest and will see me skip them in future listens (actually the whole second act), even if the closing Out Of The Blue does a bit of that, coming out of the blue to pull us (a bit) to Rock Bottom days. If you'll except the two closing tracks of the first two acts, there is absolutely nothing to get excited about so far, let alone understanding the album!!

The third Fairies act is sung in Italian (1 song) and Spanish (2 songs), but actually it works fairly well for non-Latins, but I think he's more credible in Spanish. After the charming opening Del Mondo (a spell-binding background is stealing the show on this track), Robert finally pulls a spine-tingling track in Cancion De Julietta, where the cello and violin drones make an incredibly haunting background, chilling and curdling your blood. A way toooo-long vibraphone and devices instrumental Pastafari and the tooo-short Fragment a capella + piano track provokes frustration. The closing Che Guevara anthem shows that ol'Rob is still passionate about his political ideals. The track is a Cuban rumba that manages a smile, but not much more.

Although I suppose that this album will eventually deliver its secret, one is faced with the frustration of not having a more permeable oeuvre. Wyatt was never a prolific song writer, and even a three year gap between albums seem to be too few to have an album worthy of his glory day's caliber. Aside Anachronist, Out Of The Blue, Del Mondo and Julietta, there isn't much to quench your thirst, but it's still a better total result than in his Cuckooland album.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Features one of the greatest love songs ever heard

Wyatt's latest effort is broken into three different "acts" with each covering 5 or 6 tracks. The first one is titled "lost in noise" and is probably the most grounded of the three, dealing with love and relationships. The second song "Just As You Are" grabbed me immediately: it has to be one of the least romantic, and yet most beautiful, love songs ever written. Two people basically looking at each other and saying hey, we're not perfect, we could both split, or we can love each other without trying to change each other. In my opinion, that is true love.cherishing someone without trying to change who they naturally are, even if it means your life with them may not be the storybook you were told you were entitled to. Quite a rebellious notion these days when children are told from school age that they are special and can "have it all" which they then apply to people by expecting partners to make them happy. Wyatt's lover in the song (portrayed by Monica Vasconcelos) lays her feelings out there and his fragile, yearning response is gripping. He says please accept me warts and all, but leaves the door open that one day he may not "be weak and stupid" any longer. But no promises, love.Were the whole album as direct and simply beautiful I may call it a masterpiece but it does not remain this good throughout. Act 2 "the here and the now" will take some shots at Christianity and Islam ("put a sock in it") while lamenting the position of the non-believer as well ("I feel so sad and lonely, no one to tell me what to do.") I still enjoyed much of Act 2 with its delicate, often sparse arrangements and Robert's beautiful frail voice speaking honestly about the human condition. Not to mention his deliciously wicked sense of humor, his horn, and the other fine instrumental sections. It is Act 3 "away with the faeries" where he lost me. As much as I love both foreign language progressive and experimental music, I never bought his take on either here. I thought this section sank into rather forced, pretentious, cerebral for-the-sake-of-it doodling-which can sometimes be a great thing.but here I found it a mess. Not enough to tank the album for me, but enough to lower the rating to merely "good." The lyric booklet is very well done with the tasteful art shown on the cover in larger form. 6/10

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Amazing that after all these years Wyatt continues to make relevent music that the critics all love. Hey he's even on a "hip" Indie label now. Of course there are many guests on board here as usual. I must say this is much better than the previous release "Cuckooland" in my opinion. Like an opera (Comic Opera) this is divided into three "acts", and it's about the comedy of the human condition. This is low key, experimental, quirky and beautiful.

"Stay Tuned" is actually a cover of a Anja Garbarek song. Wyatt sang a duet with her on a different song on that same album called "Smiling & Waving". By the way Steven Wilson produced that record for her and Mark Hollis and Richard Barbieri also guested. Anyway this is a melancholic tune with vocals. Female vocal melodies before 1 1/2 minutes and later after 3 minutes to end it. The bass violin and trombone really provide a sad mood. Eno adds some keys to this one. "Just As You Are" features female vocals although Robert comes in vocally at 2 1/2 minutes. The lyrics are so meaningful and touching. "You You" has again some meaningful and amusing lyrics.This is one of my favourites. There are lots of horns in this one including clarinet, sax, cornet and trombone. "A.W.O.L." is a mellow track with fragile vocals.The lyrics are both funny and sad. Cool to hear David Sinclair on piano here.

"Anachronist" is an instrumental with sax, trombone and cornet. Some bass violin after 1 1/2 minutes. Wyatt provides some keys and percussion as well in this mellow tune. "A Beautiful Place" opens with some spoken words and strummed guitar. Interesting that Wyatt and Manzanera both play guitar on this one. More comical lyrics. "Be Serious" is another favourite of mine as Robert gets into the topic of religion. "On The Town Square" is another instrumental. Some island sounds (steel pan) a minute in along with sax and percussion. "Mob Rule" is Wyatt at his best vocally. A melancholic tune. "A Beautiful War" is Wyatt at his cutting best lyrically. "Out Of The Blue" is a cool experimental track reminding me of SOFT MACHINE. Brian Eno adds his talents to this one. Great lyrics once again.

"Del Mondo" is another fav as he sings in Italian. "Cancion De Julieta" is the longest song. It's sung in Spanish and there is some dissonance. "Pastafari" is an instrumental and my least favourite. Vibes and "electrical interferance" on this one. "Fragment" is another fav with the processed female vocals that gradually become clearer. Wyatt adds piano and percussion. Cool song. "Hasta Siempre Comandante" is sung in Spanish and features actual drums and bass guitar. Piano leads the way though with the vocals. It becomes experimental with dissonant horns 4 minutes in to end it.

For me this is a solid record that's close to 4 stars. Wyatt continues to amaze me with his voice and lyrics. 3.5 stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Comicopera" is the 8th full-length studio album by UK progressive/experimental rock artist Robert Wyatt. The album was released through Domino Records (his first on the label) in October 2007. It┤s been four years since the release of Robert Wyatt┤s last album "Cuckooland (2003)". An album featuring a sombre and ▄ber melancholic mood. while "Cuckooland (2003)" lacked Robert Wyatt┤s usual humourous element, something which is an important ingredient on almost all of his releases, it was an album that won on other parameters. "Comicopera" definitely features it┤s share of melancholy, but this time around the mood is a bit more varied.

The music on Comicopera" are generally melancholic and slightly jazzy pop/rock with progressive leanings. Robert Wyatt┤s fragile and distinct voice is as usual the center of attention although there are several interesting instrumental parts on the album too. There are many guests musicians on the album and in addition to Robert Wyatt┤s piano, percussion, trumpet, cornet, keyboards and vocals we are graced with instruments like trombone, bass violin, clarinet, saxophone, guitar and drums as well as some female vocals. The guest list counts among others prolific artists like Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera.

The album is divided into three parts, or acts as it says on the sleeve, but I┤m not sure I see a concept. "Cuckooland" was divided into two parts without a clear concept so maybe Robert Wyatt just likes to divide his albums into parts. If you own the double LP version it does make some sense though as the three acts each make up a side while the fourth side contains no music and has a poem etched into its surface. Robert Wyatt sings in both English and as a new thing also a couple of songs in Italian. Tracks like the opening "Stay Tuned", the duet love song "Just As You Are" and the sombre and beautiful "Cancion de Julieta" are high quality tracks that stand out as some of the highlights on "Comicopera" but not all tracks on the album are equally as interesting. To my ears the two instrumentals "On The Town Square" and "Pastafari" are the least interesting compositions on an otherwise strong release. The former features a kind of Caribbean mood that doesn┤t gel well with the rest of the material while the latter sound like directionless noodling to my ears. The good far outweighs the bad on the album though.

The sound production is excellent, but that┤s no surprise if you are familiar with the high quality productions on most of Robert Wyatt┤s output. Taking all things into consideration "Comicopera" is another great release by Robert Wyatt. It doesn┤t quite reach the excellence of it┤s predecessor, but still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Nice little jazz album. It's my first Wyatt's album, but I think I choose wisely, when I've selected this as my first. I didn't know what I could expect, but final result pleased me. Oh and it's jazz for me, good form of jazz (using genre's slow sound with dominance of Wyatt's perfect trumpet work), but not like these fast, strong fusion projects, this is tender music. I'm even afraid to metaphorically touch it, from concern it would fall apart. But this somehow works, maybe it's just because I'm not aware of his previous work.

You'll probably feel big amount of nostalgia, when listening it. Maybe it's composition of songs, or melody, its part for sure plays vocal work (not really singer as many others, unique, different).

4(-), for something I can't understand in its entirety, as I'm not as good as reading lyrics and understanding its story. Because there is some kind of story, after all, it's Opera, isn't it ? And I don't feel so much of strong will here. Nice album, but it lacks some important things. Or is just harder to get into.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Comicopera forms the third part of a run of solid albums from Robert Wyatt which all build on the same essential recording method in which Wyatt is backed by a wide range of guests from across the musical world, with enough common personnel between tracks to give things a sense of cohesion (in particular, Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Paul Weller and Annie Whitehead have been stalwarts of these albums) and enough variance to work in the wide range of sound Wyatt seeks to capture.

Having established and refined this approach on Shleep and Cuckooland, Wyatt has here unleashed Comicopera on the world, an album which as usual with Wyatt's work keeps returning to jazz but goes on a dizzying journey around the musical world along with it. Perhaps the most wide-ranging and original of the lot, Comicopera takes the listener far and wide - there's some downright surprising excursions into strange electronic realms thanks to a little Eno magic here and there - and the extra cohesiveness lent by the act structure pushes this album to exceed the accomplishments of its two predecessors.

Few artists are able to pull off genuine artistic coups as they are entering the fifth decade of their career in music, but here Wyatt is able to pull off another five-star solo album - by my estimation his first truly top rank release since Rock Bottom - for the 40th anniversary of the London demo recordings that kicked off the fortunes of the Soft Machine. It might be miles away from the expected sound of the Canterbury scene, but Wyatt has been in his own musical cosmos ever since the Rock Bottom era, and Comicopera proves he's still making amazing discoveries out there.

Latest members reviews

5 stars He did it again! another masterpiece. The first two songs are among his best ever written. The whole record is relaxing and amusing, and slightly poppier (but not in a negtaive sense) than its predecessor. I was pleasantly surprise to find the (already heard earlier) cover of CSI's "Del Mondo". ... (read more)

Report this review (#149886) | Posted by aprusso | Saturday, November 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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