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Michael Mantler - The Hapless Child and other Inscrutable Stories CD (album) cover


Michael Mantler


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.72 | 15 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The infeasible high pitched vocals of Robert Wyatt paint doom laden pictures of Edward Gorey's spooky, gothic, illustrated fairy tales on this strange little album from '76.

It's somewhat disturbing if you really concentrate on the lyrics. They're full of child neglect and threat, menaced by ghouls and ghosts. A proper Nursery Crime. At one point one gets crushed by a car! This is a claustrophobic recording, full of sad Victorian children and their ghostly exploits set in a 'Jack the Ripper' atmosphere.

'The Hapless Child' sounds like a missing Robert Wyatt solo album given that he's barely absent for five seconds. Unfortunately he has some real difficulties fitting so many words into each tune. It's no fault of his own. The poetry is word heavy and on reading would seem a huge task in converting to a musical score.

Luckily we've got some first class musicians on board. In particular guitarist Terje Rypdal who sprays out some superb electric fusion guitar jazz along with Jack Dejohnette- himself a jazz drummer. Both somehow just manage to keep things from falling apart completely.

It does sound slightly disjointed and out of time, but that's only due to the massive amount of word play. Good old Nick Mason of 'Floyd' appears on this as a 'talker'. He's dismissed to the background however, so don't get yourselves worked up 'Floyd ' fans. You can barely hear him,

You'll appreciate this a whole lot more if you've seen Edward Gorey's spooky illustrations that accompany his, quite frankly bonkers poetry, upon which this recording is based. 'Gorey' lived between 1925-2000 but you'd be forgiven for believing that he lived in the 1800's. He was a strange character who openly admitted that he was wholly asexual, which reflects his rhymes completely.

From the listeners point of view 'The Hapless Child' is as good an interpretation that you're going to get from 'Gorey's' written word transferred to music.

It was an impossible task.

Dobermensch | 3/5 |


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