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ROBERT WYATT

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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Robert Wyatt biography
WYATT must hold a special place in many proghead's hearts as he was at the forefront of the progressive movement from 66 until his grave fall from a fourth story window which has kept him in a wheelchair. Even since then, Robert has been a real prog talent. He had started in the WILDE FLOWERS (which split into SOFT MACHINE and CARAVAN) and held the drum stool and singing mike for years before leaving to found MATCHING MOLE (a pun from the French translation of his former group MACHINE MOLLE) but had also participated to many projects involving many musicians at the forefront of progressive music before his fall. While at the hospital, he started to write one of the most personal and intimate album ever "Rock Bottom", realizing that he would never walk again let alone drumming. He also took another approach to songwriting as he also realized that he would never be in a band anymore and therefore would not write songs according to the musicians in the group. The following albums will be less interesting for progheads and his discography become erratic. Only in the last years will he come back with new albums, some superb.

WYATT is one of the great musicians focused upon in Prog Archives and every proghead should investigate his oeuvre.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Different Every TimeDifferent Every Time
Domino Recording Co. 2014
Audio CD$9.96
$9.00 (used)
Rock BottomRock Bottom
Import
Domino Records UK 2008
Audio CD$5.64
$4.19 (used)
Greatest MissesGreatest Misses
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2010
Audio CD$5.64
$10.65 (used)
Short BreakShort Break
Import
Blueprint UK 1996
Audio CD$7.27
$5.99 (used)
End of an EarEnd of an Ear
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$10.07
$13.10 (used)
EPs (5xCD) (Limited Edition)EPs (5xCD) (Limited Edition)
Limited Edition
Domino 2010
Audio CD$16.54
$16.53 (used)
ShleepShleep
Thirsty Ear 1998
Audio CD$22.33
$6.87 (used)
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ROBERT WYATT shows & tickets


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ROBERT WYATT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ROBERT WYATT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.22 | 98 ratings
The End Of An Ear
1970
4.29 | 630 ratings
Rock Bottom
1974
3.49 | 90 ratings
Ruth is Stranger Than Richard
1975
3.67 | 55 ratings
Old Rottenhat
1985
3.76 | 63 ratings
Dondestan
1991
3.81 | 99 ratings
Shleep
1997
3.52 | 64 ratings
Cuckooland
2003
3.79 | 57 ratings
Comicopera
2007
3.22 | 9 ratings
Radio Experiment Rome, February 1981
2009
3.03 | 23 ratings
For The Ghosts Within (with Atzmon and & Stephen)
2010
3.88 | 23 ratings
'68
2013

ROBERT WYATT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.01 | 51 ratings
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
2005

ROBERT WYATT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ROBERT WYATT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.24 | 29 ratings
Nothing Can Stop Us
1982
2.96 | 4 ratings
Compilation
1986
3.38 | 10 ratings
Mid-Eighties
1993
4.08 | 4 ratings
Going Back A Bit : A Little History Of Robert Wyatt
1994
3.90 | 12 ratings
Flotsam & Jetsam
1994
3.14 | 12 ratings
EP's by Robert Wyatt
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Selection: Strange Days
2003
3.83 | 6 ratings
Solar Flares Burn for You
2003
3.27 | 7 ratings
His Greatest Misses
2004
3.67 | 3 ratings
Different Every Time
2014

ROBERT WYATT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
I'm A Believer
1974
5.00 | 1 ratings
Yesterday Man
1974
3.00 | 1 ratings
Arauco
1980
5.00 | 1 ratings
At Last I Am Free
1980
3.00 | 1 ratings
Stalin Wasn't Stalling (with Peter Blackman)
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Grass (with Disharhi)
1981
3.51 | 13 ratings
The Animals Film
1982
3.28 | 6 ratings
Shipbuilding / Memories of You
1982
4.00 | 1 ratings
4 Track EP
1984
4.33 | 3 ratings
Work In Progress
1984
3.11 | 8 ratings
Peel Sessions
1987
5.00 | 1 ratings
Chairman Mao
1987
3.14 | 7 ratings
Short Break
1996

ROBERT WYATT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.29 | 630 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars (This is my amateurish translation of a chapter from my Finnish-language prog book published in 2013. "Aforementioned" refers to a chapter on MATCHING MOLE. Now I must confront the question of rating. I believe it would be 4½ stars, but because in the end I haven't listened to this album so often, I round it down. To be changed later if I come to realize how wonderful this album really is.)

Matching Mole collapsed after two albums mainly because of the lack of leadership. The winter of '72-'73 Robert Wyatt spent in Venice where his girlfriend participated in making of the film Don't Look Back. Unaccustomed to have nothing to do, he passed his time writing songs with a tiny keyboard, and after the return to London gathered a new version of Matching Mole (featuring e.g. Francis Monkman who had left Curved Air). The day before starting the rehearsals occurred the aforementioned accident, with a consequence of Wyatt being hospitalized for eight months. After three months of lying in bed he was given a wheel chair, and rather than participating in therapeutic activities he spent some time on the piano in the guest room and continued shaping the songs he had started in Venice.

The paralysis from the waist below brought inevitable changes into the musician's career, but the optimistic Wyatt turned them to a freedom: without gigging he could concentrate on album-making and use various musicians on each track if he wanted to. Rock Bottom, recorded early in 1974, was released the very same day when Robert Wyatt married Alfreda "Alfie" Benge, who was also responsible of the cover art. [Side note: there are two versions of the cover, the other one is a colour-drawing of a dive.]

Wyatt's ethearal keyboard and vocal style is accompanied on two tracks ('Sea Song' and 'Alifib') by a bass guitar only, whereas other tracks feature a variable cast of musicians and articulators. Laurie Allan's plentiful use of hi-hat underlines the jazzy esthetics of 'A Last Straw', and the fast-tempo 'Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road' gives a central role to a trumpet. On 'Alife' that starts with slightly dissonant bass clarinet sounds, Wyatt's word play is affectionately answered by the love song's object herself. On the intense final track Wyatt's lyrics are articulated by a Scottish poet Ivor Cutler sounding like a loonie. This album produced by the Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason is by far the most appreciated classic in Wyatt's long and respected solo career. it was met with a fairly good reception, even though Wyatt's only hit was the Neil Diamond cover 'I'm a Believer' two months later.

In 1975 appeared rather uneven Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard, after which the discography expanded in the 80's with politically coloured albums Nothing Can Stop Us (1982; covers only) and Old Rottenhat (1985). Recommended albums for those who enjoy Wyatt's airy and chamber-jazzy style might include Shleep (1997), Cuckooland (2003) and Comicopera (2007).

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 Theatre Royal Drury Lane by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Live, 2005
4.01 | 51 ratings

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Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by rusty

4 stars Yes, that hidden weird backwards then forwards coda (just 2 minutes of it) of looped Alifie, then a very angular guitar (surely fred frith?). what an oddity. the album is - yes I know the sound slips a little... ever been to a rock concert?... but the emotion is all there. Wonderful. Well, I just wnted to add that short piece of info, as I have had the album for 3 years and never heard that hidden track till tonight (after 3 minutes of clapping and 3 of silence... ) I did wonder what the 12 minute running time comprised. Maybe not every CD has this? Be interested to hear which ones do.

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 Theatre Royal Drury Lane by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Live, 2005
4.01 | 51 ratings

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Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by jazz2896

5 stars How this album hasn't gotten more attention is beyond me. Released from the archival tapes long thought missing, in my view this is easily one of the top five Canterbury albums ever released. The lineup is utterly mindblowing, including Hugh Hopper, Fred Frith, Mike Oldfield, Nick Mason, Dave Stewart, and of course Robert himself to name just a few. Based on this lineup alone I'm surprised this album isn't more popular, but such is life. On to the music. Rock Bottom itself is a masterpiece in every way imaginable, and every single track from that album is represented in this glorious live set. The beautiful, yet frail arrangements on the studio album would be impossible to reconstruct in a live setting, so a carbon copy of the studio tracks was never going to happen, but how these tracks are transformed is where the beauty of this album lies. The songs are all beefed up with the individual talents of each of the players, who are all able to stretch out during each piece, which adds a new flavor to songs. The largest deviation from the studio album would be in the track Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road, where the trumpet loops are replaced with a jumpy guitar and bass riff, and the result is nothing short of astounding. Wyatt's voice in this live setting sounds as passionate and charged as ever, perhaps moreso than on the studio album. The non Rock Bottom tracks are excellent as well, representing various eras of Wyatt's musical career at that time. One of the largest complaints of this album has been the sound quality. The first 2/3's or so of the album has excellent sound quality, every instrument can be heard clearly. For 1974, the sound quality is excellent. While the last ⅓, yes the sound quality dips, but not to the point of being unbearable. I would say the sound is about on par with Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends, which to these ears is a perfectly listenable album. Overall, this release is an easy 5/5, recommended for anyone interested in Wyatt's music, the Canterbury scene, and progressive rock in general. It may even be a good access point to Rock Bottom for those who find it to be too sparse and bleak. I cannot recommend this album enough.

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 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.29 | 630 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

5 stars The next album from 1974 for me to both encounter and celebrate is Robert Wyatt's second and so renowned "Rock bottom". Wyatt had earlier released "The End of an ear" 1970 but this is his witohout competition most known record. The cover hasn't many colours, perhaps the music is so good it doesn't need to sell, it's like The Beatles' "White" album.

The music of Wyatt's "Rock Bottom" is a wonderful mixture of styles and musical expressions. It has a crazy experimental approach with avant-garde influences as well as the calmer soft jazzy Canterbury sound which I love from Caravan's records. Extraordinary compositions together with instrumentality without borders make this such interesting music. The light vocals of Wyatt, the basses of Richard Sinclair and Hugh Hopper and Laurie Allan's drums together with trumpet, clarinet, saxophone and viola of guest musicians of high standard make us understand what a band we are listening to. On one song for example Mike Oldfield plays guitar.

Two songs would I consider ebtter than the others: "Sea Song"(10/10) which made me so astounded when I heard it for the first time and the odd but catchy "Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road"(10/10). Three other songs surprises us every second with glimpses of glory: "A Last Straw"(9/10), "Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road"(9/10) and "Alifib"(9/10). I haven't mentioned "Alife" yet. It's the album's least intriguing song even it it is very good too(8/10). I won't write so much about the record. So many have done it before me but I can recommend it for very prog lover. An average on 4.58 makes this a five star record.

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 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.29 | 630 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This genre called Canterbury leaves me baffled every time. It is such an askew sounding genre, yet extremely focused and visionary. There's plenty of jazz, plenty of rock and plenty of everything and then stuffed into one big bucket of prog. Actually, I think that Canterbury may well be the prime example of prog in it's most vivid and exploratory manner.

As such it demands something special of the listener. Though melodic it is also, as stated, askew and spinechilling. Prog is by definition something to sink your teeth into but Canterbury, like zeuhl for instance, is really something else. Demanding, yes. Rewarding? Absolutely.

I came across this album having read about it's glory and godliness. At first I found it just a tad too bleak. It is not an uplifting listen, though I would not necessarily say it's a downer either. It is, really, a strange trip. Wyatt manages to create an album of sparsity though really rich in texture and body. I suppose you need to hear it to understand it. To me it is a wonderful example of restraint without holding back. Is that talking nonsense? I think not.

The first two tracks are incredible. "Sea song" is inexplicably beautiful, mellow, melancholic and simple in in it's complexity. "A last straw follows". A bit more rock feel to it, though jazzy. "Little red riding hood hit the road" is effect laden and full lf intricacy in instrumentation. Wonderful. "Alifib" recalls Hatfield & The North, I think, which is great. (Wyatt contributed vocals on the first Hatfield album.) "Alfie" is the strangest song on the album. Really it is scary, with it's half spoken vocals and eerie effects. The album ends with "Little red robin hood hit the road", on which Mike Oldfield adds some distinct guitar playing. An awesome track and a great way to end this gem of an album.

In conclusion, this is one great example of Canterbury but also prog in general. Eerie, demanding, bleak, rich and rewarding. It has everything one could hope for, really. However good, I cannot reward it five stars. This is an amazing album and I think an excellent addition to any collection. Essential? Well... In parts I think so but on the other hand no. I cannot put my finger on it. If you are looking to investigate Wyatt, start here. It is a good place to begin.

Four shining, glorious stars.

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 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.29 | 630 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

4 stars I've owned and listened to this album regularly for a few years now but to this day fail to feel the sadness others associate with listening to it. I know the story, and I can imagine Robert's mood and mindset whilst creating this album (how cathartic and, hopefully, healing!) To hear the man's shift in instrumental orientation is quite extraordinary. And the emotion in his voice is quite raw and beautifully, expressively carefree. The contributing band members must have been quite focused in the making of this one. The contributions of Richard Sinclair, Mongeza Feza, Gary Windo and Mike Oldfield's are especially notable, though Fred Frith's viola play in the second half of "Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road" is exemplarily of the album's seriousness.

1. "Sea Song" (6:32) (9/10) is plaintively beautiful if a bit monotonous.

2. "Last Straw" (5:47) (9/10) is most remarkable to me for Robert's vocalized 'trumpet' play-- something I quite enjoy.

3. "Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road" (7:41) (10/10) is a gorgeous song with amazing piano chord play, bass lines, and multiple tracked trumpets weaving among and beyond the tick-tocking percussive play. The distorted and reverse-effected keys, guitars and vocals are used to amazing effect. The Hedgehog is just weird.

4. "Alifib" (6:55) (8/10) is probably the album's oddest, saddest foray into self-pity and opiate- induced nonsense. Thank goodness it shifts into some more expressive free-form jazz with

5. "Alifie" (6:32) (8/10), an excursion into some deeper, darker expressiveness primarily via the inspired saxophone play of Gary Windo.

6. "Little Red Robin Hood Hit The Road" (6:09) (9/10) is highlighted by some vintage Mike Oldfield guitar work (on multiple tracks) as well as some of Robert's cleverest wordplay.

Definitely a better listen if on headphones and while giving it one's full attention. It has a timelessness to it that makes it rise above the 4 stars it might otherwise deserve. The Hedgehog is just weird.

"Dinsdale!" . . . "Dinsdale!"

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 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.29 | 630 ratings

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Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by LinusW
Special Collaborator Italian Prog Specialist

4 stars Intimate, fragile, unstable and delicate - Rock Bottom is a reserved but bustling musical odyssey inwards. A perfect marriage of the personal and the abstract.

While never outright showy, there's just a subdued shimmering and hazy richness and gentle grandeur that make this album positively simmer in a unique and self-contradictory hallucinatory clarity.

A freely flowing, kaleidoscopic enigma of intimate beauty in predominantly colder colours, it's made full by layer upon layer of droning, eerie ambience, psychedelically immaterial or squealing guitars and the entirety of the zany zoological garden of sounds you find on the Canterburian experimental side. Sweetly innocent and clear melodies alongside Wyatt's almost tangible, vulnerable and very personal vocals fuse with darker streaks of wavy and diverse keyboards or a low-intensity jazz glow with gently crackling drums and unpredictable, fiery, but ultimately restrained woodwind and brass. Substantial, melodic, but sometimes detached, freely roaming and wilfully strange piano and importunate, entrancing percussion and imploring saxophone. Viola, concertina...there's room for so much. Every track is a new adventure, rewarding patience and attention in order to fully soak up all the nuances and minute twists and turns in the crisp and clear atmosphere.

The songs drift away into the unknown on a steady, patiently repetitive beat, but soon develop into isolated and hypnotic universes of their own when all the restless instrumental opulence gradually kicks in. It's fractured and jumbled, undependable and shaky, free-form, but often bent towards naked melancholia and sadness or even sinister, looming danger. And there's even room for a twisted sense of fun, creating a schizophrenic tension that never really goes away, and which only further adds to the vibe of uncertainty. But in the end it's always so wondrously, surprisingly, controlled. The emotion and instrumentation are like embers in the dark, with a constant deep red intensity that says it all without ever having to resort to wildly dancing flames.

While the charms of this one eluded me for a long time, the more I've listened to it the more I've come to adore it. It's an intense and intruding, but simultaneously restrained and naked affair, which if you let it in under your skin can cause exhilarating dizziness and lasting shortness of breath. And that's a good thing.

4 stars.

//LinusW

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 Dondestan by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.76 | 63 ratings

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Dondestan
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Robert Wyatt followed up the Casio-tastic Old Rottenhat with one of his strangest albums, which emerged first in 1991 in a somewhat rushed mix due to running out of time and recording budget. Later, thanks in part to the success of Shleep, a new remix of the album would emerge entitled Dondestan Revisited, which teases out the subtleties of the compositions. Like Old Rottenhat, it's a multi-instrumentalist effort with strongly politicised lyrics and more than a touch of free jazz influence here and there, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone new to Wyatt's discography (especially when the gorgeous Rock Bottom is such a brilliant starting point). At the same time, it builds on the quirky foundations of its predecessor admirably and is an intriguing experiment in its own right.

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 '68 by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.88 | 23 ratings

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'68
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Despite its simple and evocative title, this album does deserve quite an explanation in terms of context. These studio tapes were thought to be missing and only acetates had survived, and were never thought to be issued as an album, beit under Wyatt's name or Soft Machine's. If I mention the Machine, it's obviously that these sessions were recorded in Lost Angeles while Soft Machine had temporarily ceased action, after touring the US with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And if the tapes still exist today, it's precisely because the JHE management paid the session bills (they also had used the studios) and took the tapes with them. After the US tour, where future Police guitarist got fired and left stranded in the US (he managed to find engagement in Eric Burdon and The New animals, then based in California), only Wyatt remained overseas and just hung around with the JHE and was even using the spare bed in the band's accommodation in LA's canyons.

Anyway, the four tracks on this session have all a strong link with Soft Machine, since the opening track Chelsa (sic) bears lyrics of Kevin Ayers, and it may just sound very familiar in a later Matching Mole album with different lyrics. While we're busy with the short track, let's mention that Slow Walkin' Talk (a Brian Hopper composition that sounds furiously Hendrix-ian) features that very same Jimi on bass - most likely playing left-handed on Noel Redding's right-handed bass.

As for the two longer tracks, Ryvmic Melody, but the first part is very reminiscent of the Alphabet of SM's Vol 2 album (yet not even recorded), but to be honest, it overstays it's welcome under this repetitive form: the only interesting time comes when he spells involuntarily BBC. Indeed, the "Dada Was Here" second section outclasses the psychedelic delirium of the Alphabet, but Wyatt's dope purveyor must've been good, because he psycho-babbles in Spanish (actually "guiltying" about missing his fatherhood back home) under McCoy Tyner-ian piano chords and later on thanking the full JHE. Personally, I find this second section the most interesting archives document of this release.

As for the 20-mins+ Moon In June all-Wyatt version, it's pure candy, with these effects around the 6th minute. Needless to say this version is much more sung that its official Third version, but the second part is from a session where Hopper and Ratledge do their usual things; this is a montage of different studio tapes (already done on another Cuneiform release Backwards). Needless to say that this second half holds as much interest as its preceding collaged companion piece and this could be one of my fave versions of this track.

Aymeric Leroy's liner notes (based on fresh e-mail interchanges and original Wyatt French-press interviews) are of great interest, as usual, and reconstruct the era, which Wyatt didn't seem to remember too much at first. This includes a fairly interesting passage where Wyatt explains (+/-) how to proceed recording the sequence and actual every recording track of a composition when not using a metronome (remember the era's rudimentary studio technology). My main (only?) gripe is that while the album is indeed a Wyatt archives release, it might just induced some newer (90's and 00's) fans into error (though the title and line-up are evident enough), because I might even think this could've been a Soft Machine-named archive album, for it would have less chance to WTF unaware acquirers. So while this release is "for aware fans only", it's of real interest for Machine fans.

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 '68 by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.88 | 23 ratings

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'68
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Just four songs, a fraction over 45 minutes long, comprise this release, which is a complete set of Robert Wyatt's solo recordings made in the US in late 1968. Until reappearing last year, the demo for "Rivmic Melodies" (all 18 minutes of it), an extended sequence of song fragments destined to form the first side of the second album by Soft Machine, was presumed lost forever while the shorter song on the same acetate, "Chelsa", wasn't even known to exist! Wyatt recorded these songs during some down time during and after Soft Machine's second American tour with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He multi-tracked the recording, playing piano and organ as well as drumming and singing, and even some bass - although Hendrix himself provided the bass for "Slow Walkin' Talk.

There is something incredibly fragile about these recordings, with Wyatt alone in the studio setting the scene for what the Softs were going to be doing in forthcoming years. It is quite hard to judge this music on its' own merits, given it's importance historically, but fortunately this is something that every Softs/Matching Mole/Wyatt (and even Hendrix) fan will want to have not because it was going to form the basis for so much musical experimentation, but because it is so damned good. There is a depth and quality to this music that belies the fact that these songs were recorded on acetate 45 years ago. They have been cleaned up incredibly well and I am sure that they sound better now than when they were first heard all those year ago. Robert's pianowork is strident, structured and fluid yet also staccato, while his drumming is an incredibly important part of the overall sound. His vocals are delicate, emotional, fraught and another sound to be utilized. To me "Rivmic Melodies" is a stunning piece of work, with the repeated high notes taking the song into another area altogether.

This has been made available on CD with a 16 page booklet, and as seems fitting it is also available on limited edition vinyl (with the same information on an insert). Released with Robert's approval and full co-operation, this is essential stuff.

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