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Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

4.28 | 902 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars I was into Caravan at the time.

Rock Bottom. I had heard a lot about it, many people called it one of the best pieces of music ever made and it got really good reviews overall on the site, and i decided it was something i needed to hear. I knew i liked Wyatt's unique (though with some similarities to Stewart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian) voice, because i had listened to Soft Machine and Matching Mole before, and liked it, but i really could never expect what i was going to hear. There was no way i could.

Wyatt himself once said something along the lines of to be avant-garde wasn't the challenge for me, i grew up with avant garde. It was to be more straightforward i needed to learn, and that is really obvious on this album. From beginning to end, Rock Bottom is like nothing you have ever heard, and yet it never ever sounds strained. It all seems to flow very natural, like an extention of a unique mind rather than a collection of experiments for the sake of it.

The six songs offer a great deal of variation, Sea Song is a piece both soothing and unnerving at the same time and Robert Wyatt's voice is at it's most beautiful, very melodic and dynamic. Sea Song follows in the same vein but is a bit more nervous and jazzy. Wyatt does a wah-wah solo with his voice over some strangely monotonous piano chords.

The next track ups the tempo a bit, but doesn't hold back on the madness, Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road is like a towing car pulling you over a rocky hill and back again. Literally. Wyatt starts by singing to a driving percussion and trumpet background, lyrics being pretty much nonsense, and then in the middle of the song, the tape is reversed and we hear him singing backwards the whole thing. Flip again for the lart verse where Wyatt briefly apologizes for something he has done wrong, proclaiming i'll keep trying, and i'm sure you will too. Outro has Ivor Cutler rambling something which make little sense but will make it's reappearance in the last, similarily titled, song on the album.

The twin track Alifib/Alifie continues the trend of magnificent songs on Rock Bottom, with Robert Wyatt's most moving nonsense lyrics so far and also his most spine-chilling vocals. Musically Alifib is slow, with a steady chanting of Alifib throughout, some electric guitar noodling, and subdued keyboard background. The second, however, it switches over to Alifie, there is a change in atmosphere towards the brooding and eerie, Wyatt's voice goes from pleasant and melodious to nervous and the instruments moan rather than sing. Wyatt's wife gets the last verse, telling Wyatt in a loving but reprimanging tone i'm not your dinner, you soppy old custard.

Once again Rock Bottom takes a turn, Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road features blazing guitar solo and the reprise of Ivor Cutler, speaking in a monotonous voice about fighting for the crust of the little brown loaf, for what seems now to be the only real way to end such an album as Rock Bottom.

I truly believe Rock Bottom to be a masterpiece of music, as it is a perfect blend of beauty and experimentation which few artists manage to balance in a satisfying way. It leaves me with something unique, a feeling i can't get anywhere else, but one that is worth searching for.

Give it a shot. Or two, if you need it.

Evans | 5/5 |


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