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Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom CD (album) cover


Robert Wyatt


Canterbury Scene

4.28 | 902 ratings

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5 stars "Rock Bottom" is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK rock artist Robert Wyatt. The album was released through Virgin Records in July 1974. The material featured on the album were mostly written during a stay in Venice in early 1973, but not recorded at that point as Wyatt was concentrating his efforts on working on a possible third Matching Mole album. Wyattīs fall in July 1973 from a fourth-floor window which left him paralyzed from the waist down, altered his priorities though. Unable to play drums he quit the Matching Mole project (other sources say the project was already abandoned right after the release of "Matching Mole's Little Red Record" in late 1972), and began arranging the material he had written in Venice in early 1973. This happened during his recuperation from his accident. The basic tracks were recorded in February 1974 and overdubs were recorded in April and May of 1974.

The music on "Rock Bottom" is quite unique, experimental, dark and haunting. Robert Wyattīs fragile and distinct sounding voice is intense, the delivery deeply emotional, and the lyrics are clever (sometimes gibberish, but still cleverly arranged). Itīs rock music, but of an adventurous and progressive variation (with heavy nods toward jazz). The album features a host of guests (including Richard Sinclair, Hugh Hopper, Laurie Allan, Mike Oldfield, Fred Frith, and Ivor Cutler) and in addition to the more "ordinary" rock instrumentation of guitar, bass, and drums, the soundscape also features percussion, brass, and keyboards. The drumming on the album is mostly subtle and there are actually more parts without drums than with drums, so this is not loud rhythmic based rock music by any means. The tracks can seem a bit repetitive in nature/structure, but the repetition is one of the elements which create the dark and haunting atmosphere of the album.

While Robert Wyattīs debut solo album "The End of an Ear (1970)" and "Rock Bottom" have the experimental songwriting approach in common, they are two very different sounding releases. The former often touches inaccessible avant garde territory (and frequently use dissonance), while the latter is a release focused on atmosphere. That should not be misinterpreted as if "Rock Bottom" is an easily accessible album, because it certainly isnīt, and many listeners will probably find themselves challenged by the experimental use of sound and structure. Itīs an album which is calm yet intense. Dark and serious but at the same time greatly humourous (just listen to the ending minutes of "Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road"). So there are great contrasts and effectful dynamics at play here.

"Rock Bottom" features a warm, detailed, and organic sounding production, which does the many layers of the music justice. The production was handled by Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) and praise has to go to him for managing to create such a well sounding production for music as unconventional as this. Upon conclusion "Rock Bottom" is one of those albums which stand out in an artistīs discography, but also on the music scene in general. Itīs a completely unique listening experience and one that needs to be approached with an open mind. It wonīt be an album that evey music listener will be able to appreciate, but the artistic vision and boldness in creating something as original as this should always be respected. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 5/5 |


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