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Robert Wyatt - Dondestan CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

3.79 | 103 ratings

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4 stars Robert Wyatt lived in Spain for several years, and this experience informs many of the songs on this album. Like his previous full length album, Old Rottenhat, this is a completely solo work, although his wife Alfreda Benge (who has also painted his album covers since Rock Bottom) wrote the lyrics for about half of the songs, and the closing number was co written with former Soft Machine colleague Hugh Hopper.

The main instruments on this album are piano and the top half of a drum kit, with some synthesiser and electric keyboard embellishments. At times the sound is close to parts of Rock Bottom, with his oddly hesitant piano and minimal percussion backing some highly idiosyncratic and personal songs. The songs written with his wife are beautifully observed snapshots of life in Spain (she writes with a real painter's eye for detail) whilst his own lyrics are all concerned in one way or another with his political beliefs. The title track espouses the Palestinian cause, whilst Left On Man expresses his position with an almost haiku like simplicity: "You say I over simplify well yes so did Albert Einstein/ There simply is no middle ground pentagon uber alles" Wyatt's voice remains an acquired taste, and for those who love his style of singing the relatively uncluttered backing allows his directness and honesty to shine through.

Dondestan is not as essential as Shleep or Cuckooland, but it is a strong album in its own right with plenty for fans of his earlier solo work or Matching Mole to enjoy. The more recent CD reissue has a different running order and also features a 20 minute interview with the man himself.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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