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Robert Wyatt

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Robert Wyatt Cuckooland album cover
3.54 | 97 ratings | 10 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

Part One - "Neither Here..."
1. Just a Bit (5:08)
2. Old Europe (4:16)
3. Tom Hay's Fox (3:32)
4. Forest (7:55)
5. Beware (5:09)
6. Cuckoo Madame (5:20)
7. Raining in My Heart (2:42)
8. Lullaby for Hamza (5:01)
- Silence (0:30)
Part Two - "...Nor There"
9. Trickle Down (6:47)
10. Insensatez (4:24)
11. Mister E (4:20)
12. Lullaloop (2:59)
13. Life Is Sheep (4:14)
14. Foreign Accents (3:48)
15. Brian the Fox (5:31)
16. La Ahada Yalam (No-One Knows) (4:13)

Total Time 75:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Wyatt / vocals, keyboards, piano (7,9,14), trumpet (2,3,5,9,11,13,15), cornet (1,12,15), drums (2), cymbals (9), percussion, sampler (6), co-producer

- Tomo Noro / vocals (3)
- Brian Eno / vocals (4)
- Alfreda Benge / vocals (4,12)
- Phil Manzanera / vocals (9)
- Karen Mantler / vocals (5,10,11,13), harmonica (5,10,11,13), keyboards (5), sampler & piano (10)
- Tomo Hayakawa / guitar (3)
- David Gilmour / guitar (4)
- Paul Weller / guitar (12)
- Gilad Atzmon / alto (2), soprano (1) & tenor (2,9) saxophones, clarinet (2,10,16), flute (10,16)
- Annie Whitehead / trombone (1,8,9,12,14,15)
- Jennifer Maidman / accordion (8), acoustic guitar (16)
- Yaron Stavi / double bass (4,9,10,14,16)
- Jamie Johnson / bass (12), vocals (4), co-producer
- Michael Evans / drums (5)

Releases information

Artwork: Alfreda Benge with Phil Smee (layout)

2LP Domino ‎- REWIGLP47 (2008, UK)

CD Hannibal - HNCD 1468 (2003, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy ROBERT WYATT Cuckooland Music

ROBERT WYATT Cuckooland ratings distribution

(97 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ROBERT WYATT Cuckooland reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Again released on the Boyd-owned Hannibal records and again recorded in Manzanera's facilities, some six years after the sublime Shleep, Robert had ample time to write a normal album's worth of song, but he misses the mark a bit since he fills the Cd (1.5 album's worth) almost up to the brim. Hence he falls back on his eternal problem: he's just not a prolific songwriter for him deliver real strong albums of Shleep's caliber (or RISTR & RB), thus handing in a lukewarm oeuvre for fans expecting much more. Even the amateurish artwork is botched, and there is no obvious concept despite the album being cut in two distinct parts (separated by 30 seconds of blank) and the amalgamated tracks of both entities don't seem to add to anything immediately visible in terms of ambiances or message, outside maybe denouncing human atrocities to mankind, but then again it's 30 years ol'Rob's been denouncing such things. The man seems tired of mankind and this his protest is half-hearted, as if he knew it wouldn't help and it would be the last.

Returning to the songwriting issue, there are three tracks from collab Mantler and three covers and one from Wifie Alfie, the rest being Wyatt's usual depressive music, but without any kind of genius or even the slightest enthusiasm. The usual suspects are in to give a hand, but it doesn't seem to help either. I really have problems concentrating on this one because it goes in every musical direction possible extensively, but on the whole this makes a very patchy effort. This tedious effort sometimes veers into straight jazz songs rather tedious that even having Dave Gilmour (a nOObie ;-)) in aboard changes nothing for we cannot hear his typical style peaking through, while the torrid experimental and fusion-esque horns of Shleep are now blizzard-frozen into conventional use. Actually this album has a very soppy mushy side to it, containing some strange (and deformed) forms of jazz (Mister E, Insantez, Old Europe etc), while the most biting "rockier" tracks (Lullaloop, Trickle Down & the album-best Beware) have a hard time matching the calmer Shleep tracks. One of the only tracks where Wyatt shows his emotions is in the cello/strings-laden minimalist Foreign Accents track. Lovely emotive clarinet on the closing La Ahada Valam.

On the whole, if this had more of a focus, beit musical or conceptual, Cuckooland might have deserved another star; but let's face it, even Wyatt can't win them all. Some four years later would appear Comicopera that would partially copy the mood from this album, but I found more "classic astounding Wyatt sounds" in that one, than in the present. Rarely have I met an album facing such unfavorable comparison and suffering from neighborhood of a predecessor. Avoid is my advice.

Review by soundsweird
3 stars I wanted to love this album, since all of the necessary items are "present and accounted for". Unfortunately, there is one element that should have been left on the cutting room floor. Mr. Wyatt has decided he can play the trumpet, and that he should play it on almost every song. There are several tracks here that would've been great, were it not for the inclusion of the aforementioned affliction. He even includes a trumpet part on a song that's mainly spacy syntesizers, ruining the effect completely. A few tracks survive intact, making it a worthwhile (but ultimately disappointing) album.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Business as usual, yet still sounding fresh and stimulating: that's a proper way to describe the musical essence of Robert Wyatt's "Cuckooland" in a few words, without wasting too much breath or ink. Following in the same path of introspectiveness that had been so magically stated in his "Dondestan" album, "Cuckooland" offers a more abundant and exuberant instrumentation, even more than on the preceding album "Shleep". Wyatt himself puts himself in charge of trumpet and cornet with unhidden enthusiasm and sufficient skill, in addition to his usual vocal / drumkit / piano / percussion duties. Of course, when it comes to Wyatt's stuff, the use and arrangement of adornments does not translate into pomposity - Wyatt's writing style remains the same, that is, upon the basic harmonization of a few basic chords that serve as a foundation for the compositions, the twists and added musical colours that get developed along the way provide a clever use of juxtaposed textures and inventive leads - either on guitar or wind instruments - that keep themselves constrained enough lest the introspective solemnity gets broken. Lifelong partners Brian Eno and Jamie Johnson and good old friend David Gilmour are among the relatively long list of illustrious collaborators for this album. Each individual piece in "Cuckooland" is an excellent example of joint painting shared by the involved musicians, all of them committed to a comprehension of what Wyatt is trying to say. Even though the repertoire is divided into two sections [respectively titled 'nor here..' and 'neither there'] but the listener should take this scheme as a chair in the middle of an exposure room, just a place to rest for a few seconds; the material is patently cohesive all the way from the opening track to the closing one. I don't really have a fave track from this album, since it is designed to be enjoyed as a fluid whole, but I will mention some numbers that call most of my attention every time I listen to this recording: among the more extroverted songs - 'Beware' and 'Trickle Down'; among the more melancholic ones - 'Forest', 'Lullaby for Hamza', 'La Ahada Yalam'; among the more ethereal ones - 'Just a bit', 'Tom Hay's Fox', 'Cuckoo Madame', 'Brian the Fox'. Always a sucker for Latin American Creole folklore, Wyatt includes a lovely cover of the bolero 'Insensatez', preserving its romantic nuances while re-accommodating it into his jazz-oriented introspective guidelines. In conclusion, this is a very exquisite item, especially recommended for prog lovers with jazz sensibilities - its delicacy is very demanding, it compels the listener to focus their attention on it 100 % so the experience may be properly rewarding.
Review by fuxi
4 stars Prog Archives is a remarkably broad Church. Spandex-clad minstrels rub shoulders with abstruse European avant-garde acts and cartoonesque prog-metal. Sometimes I don't know WHAT to think when I see the umpteenth review of yet another band which names its songs after minor characters from the Arthurian sagas or insists on putting that mummy from Hitchcock's PSYCHO on their record covers.

You could say a lot of things about Robert Wyatt (for many people, the main problem will inevitably be his voice) but he does deserve some applause because his recent songs are all firmly grounded in reality. CUCKOOLAND was recorded around the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a development which angered and upset Wyatt, so many of these songs sound ominous or sad. 'For Hamza', for example (about a mother's fears for her baby son's life during the bombardment of Baghdad) is one of the saddest things Wyatt ever wrote - but also one of the most beautiful. 'Beware' is another uneasy song, full of paranoia, which will be a treat to those who love Wyatt's work with Soft Machine and Matching Mole, since it features an exuberant example of his drumming.

Yes, on CUCKOOLAND Wyatt finally got drumming again (not just 'providing percussion', as he had done on a couple of Michael Mantler albums), and this was definitely a wise decision. On 'Old Europe' (a celebration of Juliette Greco's love affair with Miles Davis) Wyatt's drumming is wonderfully exciting, and on top of that he even joins sax-player Gilad Atzmon on trumpet: together they sound like a virtuoso jazz ensemble! In fact, Wyatt provides a lot of trumpet and cornet throughout this album. At the time of CUCKOOLAND's release he claimed he wanted to make up for the limitations of his voice; you get the impression passages he once used to scat are now performed instrumentally.

Not all of CUCKOOLAND is low-key. The album may sound less catchy than the gorgeous SHLEEP and is considerably more difficult to listen to, but tracks such as 'Trickle Down' and 'Lullaloop' (nightmarish, but with superb guitar by Paul Weller) seem wonderfully energetic. Gentler tunes such as 'Cuckoo Madame', on the other hand, feature Wyatt at his most surreal and may remind you of ROCK BOTTOM.

I have just two gripes with CUCKOOLAND. The first concerns the track 'Foreign Accents'. I must admire Wyatt for trying to write a protest song about Mohammad Mossadeq and Mordechai Vanunu, but agitating against the atomic bomb by endlessly repeating 'konnichiwa' and 'arigato' (Japanese for 'hello' and 'thank you') is beyond lame. Secondly, the washes of electronic keyboard on some tracks sound superfluous and dilute the force of the music. (Fortunately, this feature had almost completely disappeared by the time Wyatt came to record COMICOPERA in 2006 - 2007.)

Such minor defects prevent me from awarding CUCKOOLAND a full five stars, but all of them are forgotten as soon as I play 'Forest', the fourth track on the album, another superbly sad song (about European persecution of the Roma) featuring first-rate backing vocals by (among others) Brian Eno.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Like Wyatt's previous album "Shleep", this was recorded at Phil Manzanera's studio. Again Manzanera and Eno help out along with many other guests including David Gilmour on one track. Man this is a long one, at over 75 minutes this would have been a double album back in the day. All you have to do is read my reviews of Wyatt's solo albums to know i'm a huge fan, but this one and "Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard" are the two I like the least.

"Just A Bit" is a slow moving track with some atmosphere. What stands out the most on "Old Europe" is Wyatt's voice and the horns. "Tom Hay's Fox" is interesting with the dark piano melodies that are joined by horns and spoken words. "Forest" is one of my two favourite songs on the album. The vocals, piano and drums sound really good. Guitar from Gilmour 1 1/2 minutes in. The double bass stands out after 4 1/2 minutes. Clapping and piano 7 minutes in. Wyatt's wife and Eno help out on vocals too. "Beware" is a cool song with the synths, harmonica, percussion and drums. The vocals sound different. Trumpet comes in late.

"Cuckoo Madame" is a song I find humerous.The focus is squarely on Wyatt's vocals. "Raining In My Heart" is an instrumental of piano melodies. "Lullabye For Hamza" features some accordian early and late. Trombone too. "Trickle Down" is the start of part two of the album. Lots of horns and double bass on this one. "Insensatez" opens with vocals right off the hop and they are the focus. Female vocals help out. "Mister E" opens with trumpet as vocals arrive after 1 1/2 minutes. "Lullaloop" is different, that's all i'll say. Haha. "Life Is Sheep" features harmonica and trumpet with vocals coming in later. "Foreign Accents" is interesting lyrically with Robert repeating "Hiroshema Nagasaki". Some trombone on this one. "Brian The Fox" is probably my favourite. Quite dreamy, I really like it. "La Ahada Yalam" is a gentle melancholic track with flute, acoustic guitar and clarinet. It does come to life somewhat before 3 minutes though.

Unlike most Wyatt records this was long on minutes, but short on charm.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Cuckooland" is the 7th full-length studio album by UK progressive/experimental rock artist Robert Wyatt. The album was released through Hannibal/Rykodisc in October 2003. "Cuckooland" is a rather ambitiuos 75:19 minutes long affair seperated in two parts by 30 seconds of silence. There doesnīt seem to be an overall concept to the album though and why itīs seperated in two parts is a bit of a mystery to me unless the intent is literally what Robert Wyatt says on the back cover: "A suitable place for those with tired ears to pause and resume listening later". Itīs of course very considerate of him to care about the listeners tired ears but the pause does seem a bit odd to me.

Besides the odd pause which I suspect is some kind of joke thereīs really not much to laugh about on "Cuckooland" when it comes to the mood/atmosphere on the album. Robert Wyattīs music has always been melancholic yet with a humourous twist. That humourous twist is completely gone on "Cuckooland" and itīs replaced by bleak melancholy. The lyrics are extemely dark. Listen to tracks like "Forest" with lyrics about a forgotten Nazi death camp in the Czech Republic which was designed to exterminate Gypsies or how about a track like "Lullaby for Hamza" with lyrics about giving birth in Baghdad while the American bombs are falling and subsequently having to feed your children valium to get them to sleep at night. What a wonderful world we live in! Iīve never heard Robert Wyatt this gloomy before and while I enjoy his humour very much I actually enjoy this more serious and dark side of him equally much.

Deeply melancholic or not the music is unmistakably the sound of Robert Wyatt. Lots of atmospheric keyboards/synths/percussion/trumpet/cornet by Robert Wyatt in addition to his fragile and distinct sounding vocal style. Robert Wyatt is joined on vocals by Karen Mantler on a couple of tracks which provides the album with some variation in the vocal department. There are also the usual jazzy parts on the album with brass arrangements. Brian Eno, David Gilmour and Phil Manzanera are the most prominant guests on the album but when you listen to this album there is no doubt that itīs Robert Wyatt that is the star. He is just incredibly talented and approach writing and playing music in a very unique fashion.

The sound production is more clean sounding than anything Robert Wyatt has done before. I noticed the use of more contemporary synths on "Cuckooland" than on his earlier output which is something I think suits the sound on this album very well. "Cuckooland" is all in all a brilliant album release by Robert Wyatt and most definitely a more interesting release than itīs predecessor "Shleep (1997)". If you want to experience Robert Wyatt at his most serious and melancholic, "Cuckooland" is recommended. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Cuckooland is as close to business as usual as you really get with Robert Wyatt; you have Alfreda Benge (spouse, collaborator, cover artist and inspiration for Rock Bottom) along for the ride, you have a combination of jazz artists and old pals from Wyatt's 1960s and 1970s glory days (usual suspects Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera are on board, of course, and they've brought David Gilmour with them), and the compositions are typically challenging.

This time around Wyatt steers the ship a bit closer to the more electronic or ambient side of his output, as expressed on parts of Rock Bottom, in contrast to the busier songs on Shleep or Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard - the presence of Eno no doubt helping Wyatt to incorporate more modern synth and ambient techniques into his repertoire. As always with his solo albums, it cries out for repeated listens to unpack its secrets, but I find it a bit more approachable than some of this more esoteric solo albums (like the highly impenetrable End of an Ear).

Latest members reviews

3 stars I've manage to find the Cuckooland album by one of the prog founders Robert Wyatt in a local store, what happens less and less recently. Situation of "real" local stores is getting worse as times goes by. The seller likes this album a lot, and maybe this is one of the reasons for keeping this ... (read more)

Report this review (#255813) | Posted by ShW1 | Sunday, December 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the first Wyatt album I've listened to. I must say I liked some parts a lot, but sometimes things bored me a bit. Highlights were forest and beware. I thought the first part was better than the second. I really like the mix between jazz and psychedelics. But, there is something ... (read more)

Report this review (#182790) | Posted by Foolsdrummer | Thursday, September 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I consider this as one of the best albums of the time being, and masterpiece for Wyatt personally. In my opinion it is clearly five stars. This music is flowing from the bottom of oneīs heart. I was really surprised listening to Cuckooland, 30 years after his first Wyattīs album was issued his ... (read more)

Report this review (#29858) | Posted by | Friday, October 8, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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